Amelia Earhart This Broad Ocean by Sarah Stewart Taylor, Ben Towle, Eileen Collins

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged biographygraphic novel

Unshelved comic strip for 9/2/2011
The Next Adventure Pilot & Huxley #2 by Dan McGuiness

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelscience fiction

In this second graphic novel in the series, the two badly behaved title characters and their friend (a girl who can turn herself into a monster) find themselves in Limbo, populated by walking, talking fruit.

They use a void hopper to try to get back to Earth and find themselves in Halloween Land, talking to a friendly zombie named Tentpeg. Inhabitants there can go to Earth once a year, on their holiday, and it’s only two days to Christmas, so the boys head to Christmas Land.

Why I picked it up: The first Pilot & Huxley book was both insane and funny.

Why I finished it: Holiday Land inhabitants become their opposite when they come to our planet. Zombies are evil, nasty creatures. Santa is super nice, which means in Christmas Land he’s anything but the jolly old soul kids look forward to meeting.

I'd give it to: Theo, who’d like Frosty the Snowman, because after the kids crash into his backside he says, through clenched fangs, “So you think you can stick your head in someone’s behind and get away with it, do you?”

Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Siblings, Buster and Annie Fang, spent their childhood unwillingly starring in their parents’ bizarre performance art pieces. Now, all grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it a struggle to adjust to “normal” life. When the lives they’ve built come crashing down, they have nowhere left to go but home, where their parents plan for one last performance whether the kids agree to participate or not. It’s their most ambitious project yet, and it brings the Fangs to the difficult decision about what’s ultimately more important: their family or their art

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The Notes Ronald Reagan's Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom by Ronald Reagan, Douglas Brinkley

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged biographyhistory

In preparation for the centennial of her husband’s birth, Nancy Reagan helped raise fifteen million dollars to renovate the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. During the renovation, archivists found a box labeled “R.R.’s desk” that contained notecards in Reagan’s handwriting. it turned out to be an archive of his best material, honed and weeded over the course of thousands of speeches, dating from the 1950’s through his years in the White House and beyond. 

Brinkley organized the notes into categories (people, religion, liberty, humor, etc.).

Why I picked it up: As a former speech teacher, I wanted to read this to see how “the Great Communicator” used his folksy style to bond with audiences.

Why I finished it: Good lines like, “Money may not buy friends, but it will help you to stay in contact with your children.” I found myself counting the number of times Reagan referenced socialism, freedom, and initiative -- these gems gave me a real peek into what motivated him.

I'd give it to: My father Jack, because the last Republican he will admit voting for was Reagan. (My mother proudly cast her vote for Carter to cancel his vote out).  And Brad because he supports the push to have Reagan added to Mt. Rushmore.

Socialnomics by Erik Qualman

Welcome to the world of Socialnomics—where consumers and the societies they create online have profound effects on our economy and the businesses that operate within it.  Online word of mouth, social search, social commerce, and the influence of peer groups are making traditional marketing strategies obsolete, changing the way companies and consumers operate and communicate.  Socialnomics is a fascinating look at the business and personal implications of social media, from expert blogger and marketer, Erik Qualman.

"Erik Qualman has been doing his homework on the social media phenomenon."? — The Huffington Post

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Through No Fault of My Own A Girl's Diary of Life on Summit Avenue in the Jazz Age by Coco Irvine

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged biographyhistory

Coco Irvine got a diary for Christmas in 1926 and recorded the next year, when she turned thirteen, in her privileged St. Paul, Minnesota, neighborhood.

Why I picked it up: The title told me this girl would be getting into some trouble.

Why I finished it: She was only bouncing a basketball against the wall near the fire alarm. She didn't mean to have it hit the alarm and cause the school to evacuate before her least favorite class. Really.

I'd give it to: John, whose girls are still little, to prepare for the years when everything is exasperating or embarrassing or annoying and they have a boy they especially like.

Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

The long-awaited home décor bible by Grace Bonney, the beloved design blogger (250,000 page views every day) followed by 280,000 people, on Twitter. Houses don’t have to be frumpy and formal. They can be comfy and unique. They can reflect who you are, no matter how small your budget or space.

  • Home tours of 70 real-life interiors
  • Fifty DIY projects, with detailed instructions for personalizing your space
  • Step-by-step tutorials on everything from stripping and painting furniture to hanging wallpaper
  • Fifty Before & After makeovers submitted by real people, with limited time and realistic budgets

—and all for only $35.00!

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Save Yourself Mammal! A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner

Link to this review by billba tagged comic stripsscience

Frequently offensive comic strips about science, math, theology, sex, superheroes, relationships, and where babies come from.

Why I picked it up: I've loved SMBC ever since I discovered it (and Zach) at the first Webcomics Weekend. But, despite being a webcartoonist, I prefer my comics in book form.

Why I finished it: This is where babies come from.

I'd give it to: Mark, whose statistician brain will appreciate Zach's horizontal thinking, but who won't be put off by how Hitler saved this couple's relationship.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; illustrated by Ana Juan

This exquisitely-illustrated fairytale is part Wizard of Oz, part Alice in Wonderland and entirely enchanting, whimsical and downright silly.

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life until one day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket). He invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland where September encounters numerous creatures and makes many new friends.

Unforgettable and beautiful, you just need to read it yourself.

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Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels
Love & Loyalty by Tere Michaels
Duty & Devotion by Tere Michaels

Link to this review by snow tagged romance

After New York City police detective Evan Cerelli loses his wife to a horrible accident, he tries to keep going for the sake of his kids. Former detective Matt Haight understands Evan’s pain and the two men form a close friendship. But when that friendship begins to blossom into something unexpected they’re both taken by surprise. How can two men who’ve always thought they were straight suddenly be attracted to each other?

Meanwhile, Seattle detective Jim Shea has a crisis of conscience after a jury lets a murderer walk free. Screenwriter Griffin Drake wants to write the story of the murdered girl’s life, but Jim’s instincts are to protect her father from further harm. Griffin wants Jim to understand that he can be respectful, but he also needs this job in order to get out of a terrible Hollywood contract. Discovering he has feelings for the detective only makes things harder, especially when he and Jim try to help Matt and Evan work out their complicated new life as a couple.

Why I picked it up: I ordered the first book on a whim because of the realistic setting and the (formerly) straight characters.

Why I finished it: Laugh-out-loud dialogue like this exchange between Jim and his police partner (who is trying to get Jim to admit that he had a date the previous evening): Terry smirked. “You have a mark on your neck.” “Shaving.” “You bit yourself shaving?”

There were other small touches -- Evan’s kids’ angst, Griffin’s decaying childhood friendship, Jim and Matt’s middle-age frustrations -- that made the characters seem like real people who happened to be falling into the type of love for which romance novel readers yearn. Though marketed as erotica, the series is very romantic and touching and the sex scenes aren’t really much more graphic than an average Nora Roberts or Jayne Ann Krentz title.

I'd give it to: Kate who usually reads fantasy or Regency romances, but who would identify with the delicate work that Evan and Matt put into building a strong relationship.

Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack! by Ivor Baddiel, Sophie Jubb

Link to this review by emilyjones tagged picture book

Baby Rooster's job is to wake up everybody on the farm. The only problem is that he doesn't know what to say! He asks the other farm animals for advice, but learns to find his own voice with help from a wise owl.

Why I picked it up: I love making animal noises, during storytime at the library or whenever I have an excuse.

Why I finished it: I loved the variations on the rooster call, and I knew that the kids would repeat them long after the book was finished.

I'd give it to: Isaiah, who always tries to yell out an animal noise before I do, and will be totally unprepared for a rooster who cries, "Cock-a-doodle oink! Oink!"

Paying For It A Comic-Strip Memoir about Being a John by Chester Brown

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged biographygraphic novel

Cartoonist Chester Brown’s autobiographical graphic novel about paying for sex. His last girlfriend starts to date another guy while she and Brown continue living together, and he realizes that he’s perfectly happy to be free of the complications of romantic relationships. After a few years he begins to consider paying for sex, though he’s initially worried what others will think. But when he finally visits a brothel he feels exhilarated by his honest, natural experience.

Brown is upfront with friends (cartoonists Seth and Joe Matt among them) and has extensive conversations with them throughout the book about what he’s doing. Appendices rebut several arguments against prostitution.

Why I picked it up: I’m fascinated by human sexuality, so how could I not?

Why I finished it: The book is never crude, though there are many scenes of Brown having sex. I absolutely love the straightforward way he shows how paying for sex works better than romance for him. He’s clearly unashamed of how he finds fulfillment, despite what some of his friends think, and often tries to get to know the women he hires. He also shows great respect for them by not portraying their faces and not disclosing any of their personal details.

I'd give it to: Dave, one of my only remaining single male friends, because he doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend who’d give me the evil eye when he read it. I also think he’d enjoy Brown’s unique personality -- in his notes at the end, Seth refers to him “the robot.”

Life An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged historical fictionliteraryromance

Win is a WWI widow, living in Norfolk, England with her daughter, Ruth. She farms and despises those who “get above themselves.”  In the last days of WWII, Ruth is gardening when a German warplane takes out her chimney. She goes into labor and gives birth to Clement. 

Clem is smart and gets a scholarship to a school his family would never be able to afford. He meets a rich girl named Frankie while picking strawberries on her father’s land. They have a secret relationship. But then their lives are turned upside down by the prospect of nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis hits fever pitch. 

Why I picked it up: Mal Peet’s Exposure was the rare sort of book that both adults and young adults enjoyed.

Why I finished it: Three generations of one family showed how things changed and warped organically over time.  Win, the grandmother, was provincial. Ruth, the daughter, represented a change in fortunes with her dutiful marriage to a machinist husband. Clem, the youngest, breaks the cycle of poverty through education and smarts.  I also like how Peet covered major world events in detail, along with their effects on the family, without breaking up the narrative.

I'd give it to: Alissa, who would like the forbidden relationship Clem and Frankie cling to despite their constant fear of being exposed.  Jack, a history buff who would like the level of details, including JFK’s dreams about his negotiations with Khruschev and the U-2 spy plane flights.

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