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Recommendations for Friday, July 06, 2012

Heft by Liz Moore

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by billba tagged coming of age

Unshelved strip for 7/6/2012

Glock: The Rise of America's Gun by Paul M. Barrett

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged nonfiction

After an incident in 1986 where the FBI was outgunned by two heavily armed criminals (two agents were killed, three disabled for life, and two others injured), it became clear law enforcement agents’ traditional revolvers were no match for pistols with clips that held twice the number of bullets. Glock pistols were new to the market, featured high capacity clips, ease of operation, and few moving parts. Glock received law enforcement orders from around the globe and soon entered a partnership with the FBI and many city police departments, including New York’s.  Now they dominate the civilian handgun and law-enforcement markets and are ubiquitous in popular movies and music. (Tupac Shakur was an early adopter of mentioning Glocks by name in rap songs, possibly because of its single syllable and easy rhyming.  He was eventually killed in an unsolved murder by a Glock handgun.)  

Barrett tracks public relations triumphs, as well shady behavior during police trainings that featured Glock-sponsored, alcohol-fueled trips to strip clubs, and the schism between Glock and the National Rifle Association over how the NRA constantly stokes paranoia in gun-owners as a fundraising tool.

Why I picked it up: I just bought myself a Glock 26.

Why I finished it: Glock guns were in the right place at the right time. They had just put themselves on the map by winning an Austrian military contract when the FBI started looking for more powerful weapons.  Their polymer injection manufacturing method (hence the "Plastic Gun" designation) remains the industry standard even now. Glocks received invaluable and unintended public relations attention when New York City banned Glocks, calling them a “super gun” they didn’t want on the streets.  (Then, the Police Commissioner, Ben Ward, was photographed wearing a Glock on his belt. Within a day, the guns were legal in New York again.)

While most other manufacturer’s guns have over one hundred parts, Glocks only have about thirty. With fewer points of failure, they have fewer misfires than other guns, which gives them their well-earned reputation of always going BANG when the trigger is pulled, regardless of moisture, sand or other irritants. (The FBI tested one and it had only one misfire in 10,000 shots.)

I'd give it to: My buddy Kent, who would like the background on Gaston Glock, the reticent, yet sometimes arrogant Austrian inventor who went from producing curtain fittings to winning an Austrian Army gun contract in two years.  His drive and belief in himself are similar to Kent’s can-do attitude. 

God Save The Queen by Kate Locke

Keep Calm and Pray for Dawn

Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist…the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns. Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key—the prize in a very dangerous struggle.

“A fresh, witty, and darkly beautiful ride through a London ruled by a vampire Queen Victoria….You’ll enjoy every minute of adventure and mystery.” — Philippa Ballantine

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East Dragon, West Dragon by Robyn Eversole, Scott Campbell

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged fantasypicture book

East Dragon lives in a palace with his brothers and sisters, bringing luck to the Emperor. West Dragon lives in a cave and has to deal with pesky knights trying to slay him. They have never visited each other and are a little worried that the other might be tougher and fiercer.

West Dragon tricks the knights and the King into traveling to the land of the East Dragon, so that he can get a break from their constant annoyance. But then they get in trouble and need his help!

Why I picked it up: I am a big fan of the illustrator, Scott C. (He autographed my copy at ECCC!)

Why I finished it: I loved how the story transformed dragon legends from Asia and Europe into two very different dragon personalities! One can fly, the other can swim; one wears a kimono, the other wears a sweater; one does calligraphy, the other plays video games! They end up working very well together.

I'd give it to: Matty, who likes I Spy puzzle books, because the knights, soldiers, and courtiers are always doing cool stuff in the backgrounds of the pictures. He'll like being rewarded for being extra observant!

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl, Carol McD. Wallace

Link to this review by billba tagged history

An in-depth exploration of a short but fascinating period of history, when, at the turn-of-the-(last)-century, the social scene of two countries was overturned by a raft of well-to-do Americans who married titled Britons. It is copiously illustrated with period photographs and drawings.

Why I picked it up: I saw it advertised in the Unshelved Book Club back in February as "the book that inspired Downton Abbey!" (For those sad few not in the know, that's an awesome British TV series that revolves around one such (fictionalized) marriage.)

Why I finished it: I love history best when it's seen through the prism of a particular phenomenon. This one draws in American industrialization and class structure, New York's "Gilded Age," Queen Victoria's mourning, conventions of the British upper class and royalty, and the most hilariously indolent Prince of Wales ever.

I'd give it to: Scott, my son's awesome online history teacher. He'll enjoy tracing the many trends that brought together the most famous and important of these unions, Jennie Jerome and Lord Randoph Churchill, parents of Winston.

House of Night: Legacy by PC Cast

Until recently, Zoey Redbird was an average high-school student worrying about grades, boys, and breakouts. But priorities have a way of changing when you're Marked as a vampyre, enroll in the vampyre academy House of Night, and have to figure out a whole new social hierarchy, affinities for elemental magic, and physiological changes that make you crave blood!

Based on the international bestselling series of novels by mother/daughter duo P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, House of Night: Legacy follows Zoey and her group of devoted friends as they turn to The Fledgling Handbook, a historical vampyre tome, in hopes of better understanding this big, new world of vampyrism."

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Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jen Corace

Link to this review by rosie tagged picture book

A sweet picture book about a sugar pea.

Why I picked it up: Our family got it as a gift from Gene when I was a baby. Our whole family reads it again and again because Little Pea is just like me -- a kid who loves to play with my friends and hang out with my parents.

Why I finished it: It's funny. His parents make him eat candy for dinner, but he can't wait for dessert (spinach).

I'd give it to: My grandmother TyTy, who loves to play with kids. There is a cute scene where Little Pea is swinging at a playground. But the funniest part is the one pea who isn't swinging, just sitting there looking sad. It's hard to swing when you have no arms or legs.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Link to this review by gigi tagged picture book

This book is about all different shades of green. Every time you turn the page you see a different painting with a different green like lime green or jungle green. There are also a few pages about green that have none.

Why I picked it up: My second favorite color is green. (My favorite is blue.)

Why I finished it: My favorite, shaded green, has two trees on a hill.  There are apples and a person (under one tree) reading a book. It has a lot of different greens in the trees that show the shape of the leaves.

I'd give it to: Maisy, because she would like that each page has a differently shaped hole (sometimes more than one) that shows a bit of the green on the next page.  

Lil’ Depressed Boy: Volume 3 by Steven S. Struble

Volume 3 of the series that Multiversity Comics says is "...crafted so perfectly that it made me smile to no end." After recent heartbreak and road trip adventures, The Li'l Depressed Boy needs to put his life together. Step One: Find a job. But even gainful employment can't take the edge off the pressure of asking a new crush on a date.

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Oil and Water by Steve Duin, Shannon Wheeler, Michael Rosen

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelnonfiction

On April 20, 2010, eleven men were killed when British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the gulf before the well was capped eighty-seven days later.

In August of 2010, a group from Oregon, including cartoonist Shannon Wheeler and The Oregonian columnist Steve Duin, went to the Gulf Coast to witness the disaster and let the people down there know they were not forgotten. This graphic novel shows what they learned and observed: locals who continued to fish, hopeless bird cleaning operations that may just have been PR opportunities, and the inextricable way oil is tied into the Gulf states' economies and the residents’ lives.

Why I picked it up: WLMA President Craig Seasholes wrote to tell me I had to read it.

Why I finished it: Early in the book, one of Oregonians, Max Hawk, “anti plastic activist and bird enthusiast,” who wears a strange cyclops-like lens to aid his bird watching, says he has “the poop story to end all poop stories.” He doesn’t tell it until the end of the book, so I had to keep reading. Plus another of the Oregon tourists is wearing a Green Lantern T-shirt.

I'd give it to: My friend Liz, who builds houses with Habitat for Humanity. After reading how BP cut corners to save a few million dollars (and ended up costing billions in cleanup alone, not to mention the ongoing environmental devastation) I just feel like the whole situation is hopeless. Liz will see some light, though, and (I hope) help me see it, too.

A Matter of Life and Depth: (Marineman Volume 1) by Ian Churchill

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelsuperhero

Marine Biologist Steve Ocean is known as Marineman, host of underwater TV documentaries. After he dives into shark-infested waters to save his friend and cameraman Jake Clearwater, the secret is out: Steve can breathe underwater.

Contains Marineman #1-#6.

Why I picked it up: The cover is really eye-catching, and I heard the story about how Churchill started working on the book when he was eight. (There are some pages from his orginal Marineman book in the back of this one.)

Why I finished it: The way Marineman discovers his own origins isn’t completely original, but it’s really well done. His parents found him when he wandered out of the ocean one day, bleeding, and then raised him. After his secret is publicized, the mad scientist responsible for his abilities, The Ancient Mariner, reveals himself (and his super-cool underwater vessel, The Leviathan).

I'd give it to: Vanessa, who’d enjoy the demonstration of tonic immobility in a lemon shark, as well as the interviews with real-life underwater researchers at the end of the book.

Blacksad: Silent Hell by Juan Diaz Canales

Detective John Blacksad returns, with a new case that takes him to a 1950s New Orleans filled with hot jazz and cold-blooded murder! Hired to discover the fate of a celebrated pianist, Blacksad finds his most dangerous mystery yet in the midst of drugs, voodoo, the rollicking atmosphere of Mardi Gras, and the dark underbelly that it hides! Eisner award-winning Blacksad is back with murder and music on the bayou!

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The Ultimate Survival Manual: 333 Skills That Will Get You Out Alive by Rich Johnson

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged nonfiction

Rich Johnson has published hundreds of articles about camping and survival skills in outdoor magazines. He divides his knowledge into sections on cities, the wilderness, and natural disasters. Quick, to the point advice covers skills one might need in a hurricane, a knife attack, or a swarm of mosquitoes. Colorful sidebars give statistics on occurrences and fatalities for situations under discussion.

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook and this looked similar.

Why I finished it: The matter-of-fact advice about horrible situations I never want to find myself in is alternately scary and funny. My favorite was about what to do if a botfly lays eggs in your flesh. You can wait until the larvae hatch, which is painful. Or you can tie raw bacon over the bite (the larvae will then leave your flesh and burrow into the bacon instead). A third option is to cover the small opening in your skin with superglue or Vaseline to suffocate the larvae, but then you have to dig the corpse out of your arm a day or so later.

I'd give it to: My friend Jenn, who is a huge fan of zombie books. While this doesn’t cover how to deal with the undead, it does talk extensively about how to get through civil breakdown.

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