the_grinch2c_final_posterMovie Review: The Grinch, directed by Yarrow Cheney

(Four Stars)

A much better, more child-appropriate adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s book than the 2000 atrocity stolen by Jim Carrey.

Faithful to the book, but creative enough to freshen the story. It’s heart is the right size.

Grandchild tested.

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Book Review: Dragon and Slave by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Slave (Dragonback #3) by Timothy Zahn

(Three Stars)

“They were slaves, and she was a slave, and the only place to hide from that reality was inside herself.”

I liked it; it’s a good read but the series is becoming formulaic. (See previous reviews here and here for the good news.)

“He wasn’t going off the deep end of the pool like some junior K’da warrior. All he was doing was paying back a debt. He probably would have felt better if he’d believed that.”

Book Review: Dragon and Soldier by Timothy Zahn (Three Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Soldier (Dragonback #2) by Timothy Zahn

(Three Stars)

“You’re innocent until they absolutely prove otherwise. And for ten minutes after that, too.”

Good story, consistent with the high tone set in the series opener, Dragon and Thief. Jack makes bone-headed decisions typical of a fourteen year old. Zahn, having saved the reader the apparently-mandatory Hogwarts school experience in the first tale, lays it on us now.

“You know, Darycos, for being such a clever poet-warrior, you’re kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.”

(Sorry I don’t have more quotes: read the ebook version on a trip. Highlighted quotable sentences, but my cell phone has done the u-boat routine since.)

Book Review: Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Dragon and Thief (Dragonback #1) by Timothy Zahn

(Four Stars)

“Jack muttered a word that had once cost him a week of desserts.”

Entertaining science fiction for young readers that harks back to the early days of SF, before we got all cynical and crude. Not that our fourteen-year-old protagonist isn’t a cynic, but that’s part of the fun. Thinking smarter you know everything at that age is such a burden, and a delight to those around you.

“It is interesting, is it not, that people so often turn out to be different than we expect.” “Don’t fool yourself, kiddo.”

Lots of typos which appeared to be OCR scanning errors. Someone at Open Road flunked proofreading. Still, we appreciate their making these books available.

(Ship named Essenay? Pig Latin (Es-See-Nay) for Nessie, perhaps, as in Loch Ness’ Nessie?)

Book Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“I’m a SecUnit, not an engineer.”

This is what comes of giving five star ratings. When Wells writes an even better story, there’s no higher rating to give. Rats. This story reads as if Martha (sorry for the familiarity, but I feel I’ve been in her head; first names sound more appropriate) and her buds got together, popped a few brews, and discussed how they could improve on the already snarky, wonderful humor of her first three murderbot outings. Here it is! Better than ever.

“I was the only one here, so I braced myself and made the ultimate sacrifice. ‘Uh, you can hug me if you need to.’ She started to laugh, then her face did something complicated and she hugged me. I upped the temperature in my chest and told myself Continue reading

Book Review: The Printer and the Preacher by Randy Petersen (Five Stars)

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Book Review: The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George White, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America by Randy Petersen

(Five Stars)

“Franklin was a newspaperman and Whitefield was news.” John R. Williams

A remarkable study of the two men who most shaped the personality of American before the Revolution. Today one is a cultural icon, the other unknown; then Whitefield was better known than Franklin.

“Not only a sense of charity, but of empowerment.”

Sympathetic descriptions of the motives, actions and goals of all parties. He is especially positive to both explicate and reconcile the differences between Franklin and Whitefield. Both wanted the best for their fellow man, even though each had his own motives. The reader may feel Peterson occasionally protests too much, but Continue reading

Book Review: 1919 Versailles by Charles L. Mee Jr. (Four Stars)

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Book Review: 1919 Versailles: The End of the War to End All Wars by Charles L. Mee Jr.

(Four Stars)

“It is always easier to start a war than to end one, let alone win it. … Harshness and vengeance nearly always return to haunt those who impose them. But of all the lesson that Versailles leaves us with, certainly the most insistent is that of the inability of the few any longer to govern the many.”

Exhaustive rendering of how the world’s leaders–especially France’s Clemenceau, Britain’s Lloyd George and America’s Wilson–crowned the horror of World War One with the charade of a “peace” that virtually guaranteed World War Two. That’s not news to most readers, but Woodrow Wilson’s role in raising then dashing international hopes may be.

“[Wilson] believed in words, in their beauty, in their ability to move people, in their power to give shape, and structure, and cohesion to the world–in their power, he appeared to believe, to transform reality.”

Wilson conducted secret negotiations with the Germans before Continue reading

Book Review: Ocean Mother, Daughter Sea by Diana Marcellus (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Ocean Mother, Daughter Sea (The Witch of the Two Suns, Book #1) by Diana Marcellus

(Four Stars)

“Everything that is worth having has its price.”

Excellent medieval fantasy. Good world and character building. Good interplay between various points of view of the witch issue. Marcellus feeds in the essential backstory at the essential time. Adequate closure with obvious ties to the continued story.

Quibbles: A trim man can’t squeeze through a sixteen inch opening? Many typographical errors which seem the product of faulty Optical Character Scanning, converting an image type to digital. Needs a good proofreading.

“For a man determined on the clear light of reason, the touch of the old tales did not please.”

Book Review: And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman (Five Stars)

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Book Review: And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

(Five Stars)

“The meaning of life: Company. Company. And ice cream.” “What kind of ice cream?”

Wonderful. Should be read by everyone who is a grandparent, plans to be one, or has grandparents. A poignant look inside generations–consecutive and skipped. Short; powerful.

“Are we here to learn how to say good-bye, Grandpa?” “I’m afraid we are.”

Backman explains that he didn’t write this book for us, but for his family. I’m so glad he shared it. The relationships and the emotions ring true.

Why do people who don’t believe in heaven assume, if they’re wrong, they’ll go there?

“What can we do to help Grandpa?” “We can walk down the road with him.”

Book Review: The Four Million by O. Henry (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Four Million by O. Henry

(Four Stars)

“’Tis a weary thing to count your pleasures by summers instead of hours.”

First published in 1906, this collection still resonates with wit and insight. Each story ends with a twist, usually but not always pleasant. Even knowing its coming, the reader is rewarded with a surprise.

“The almanac lied and said spring had come. Spring comes when it comes.”

O. Henry loved New York City every bit as much as Walt Whitman, if not so poetically, though the NYC they heralded may be as distant as the hanging gardens of Babylon.

“Gabriel had played his trump; and those of us who couldn’t follow suit ….”

O. Henry loved words: big words, French words, slang words, puns. His stories are a verbal fuselage. Modern electronic readers will find themselves seeking help deciphering his prose.

“In Soapy’s opinion the law was more benign than Philanthropy.”

Over a hundred year old, this story reflects some attitudes now discarded. O. Henry seemed to love his neighbor, even if he expresses himself in a manner which might set modern teeth on edge. (You’ve been warned.)

“We can’t buy one minute with cash; if we could, rich people would live longer.”