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review 2018-05-07 18:45
TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS: DANA ROBERT'S CASEBOOK OF HORRORS, by Joe & Kasey Lansdale
Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale,Joe R. Lansdale

 

Joe Lansdale always delivers and now we know that Kasey Lansdale does too!

 

In the foreword, the "Champion Mojo Storyteller" shares with us a little bit about his character Dana Roberts, and how she came about investigating what she calls the "supernormal." This being what most people call "supernatural," but what Dana believes are just events that science cannot yet explain. I enjoyed her tales a LOT, mostly because I loved the framework of Dana being asked to share her stories with a group of skeptical men, (and sometimes women), in a smoky club. In the last two tales, Dana hires Jana, (Kasey Lansdale's creation), and they investigate a few cases together. While Dana is the skeptical, professional and beautiful lead "investigator," Jana is the irreverent, less polished, but also beautiful, sidekick. Having these last tales be from her POV was brilliant, giving us a different look at Dana's work while also highlighting the fact that Dana is kind of hoity-toity and not as willing to get her hands dirty as this reader first thought.

 

My favorites of the bunch were:

 

THE CASE OF THE LIGHTHOUSE SHAMBLER I'm a sucker for haunted lighthouse stories and this one was a doozy.

 

THE CASE OF THE FOUR ACRE HAUNT was the tale of a haunted house. What made it special for me were the descriptions of the shadows; some of them honestly gave me the heebie-jeebies, and that doesn't happen often. Well done!

 

 

THE CASE OF THE ANGRY TRAVELER featured one of my favorite tropes-the whole city discovered beneath today's city type-thing. Now you know that Dana and friends found something down there, but what was it, exactly? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

Of the two Jana and Dana stories, THE CASE OF THE RAGMAN'S ANGUISH stood out the most for me. This was more of a novella than a short story, but there were different aspects to it than in the other tales, (I won't say what those aspects were), which made it unique and my favorite story of the bunch.

 

TERROR IS OUR BUSINESS was just plain fun and reminded me of the flat-out horror tales Joe Lansdale wrote back in the day. Joe's famous sense of humor may not be the prominent one in this collection, but Kasey's, (or Jana's) humor is, and it turns out? She's funny too!

 

Highly recommended for fans of short, scary stories that have a healthy side of humor and skepticism!

 

*Thanks to the authors and to the publicist at Cutting Block Books for the chance to read this book free, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-04-07 22:35
Block and Strike by Kelly Jensen 4.5 Star Review!!
Block and Strike - Kelly Jensen

Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.

Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years, and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.

Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.

 

Review

 

Jacob and Max. I love the complexity of this romance. I love how much each hero has going on internally and externally when they meet. 

All the conflicts press in on them and they fall in love anyway and we want them too. 

This is a well written love story with so many fine details: internalized homophobia, martial arts, bi phobia, anger management. Despite the dark themes, this is a hopeful and healing romance overall with a great cast and wonderful arc for each hero. 

Jacob delays telling Max somethings too long in ways that don't make sense but they are both flawed, lovely and lovable characters that I adored.

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review 2018-03-09 04:14
Pink and Say
Pink and Say - Patricia Polacco

You better bring some tissues when you sit down to read this text, because you are going to need them! Patricia Polacco is the author and illustrator of this profound piece of children's literature. Polacco introduces us to the true story of two young soldiers. Many of Polacco's works are based on true stories, and this one packs a punch. This text is perfect for lessons about the civil war. I recently used this text to write my own lesson plan; I required students to read the text and research their state's role in the civil war. The students were then asked to write a persuasive piece detailing why they would or why they would not live in their state during the civil war.

 

 

Guided Reading - V

Lexile - 600L

DRA - 50

AR - 3.8

 

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review 2018-03-09 03:41
The Story of Ferdinand
The Story of Ferdinand - Munro Leaf,Robert Lawson

The story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf tells the delightful account of a young bull named Ferdinand. With the story taking place sometime in Spain, the reader might assume that Ferdinand is destined to be a matador. However, young Ferdinand is unique. While his peers run, fight, and play, "Ferdinand likes to sit under his tree just so and smell the flowers" (Leaf). The simple illustrations by Newberry award winning illustrator, Robert Lawson, might seem plain - but but do not be deceived! Hidden gems and details beg the reader to revise the text. I would love to use this book to study Spanish culture. One of the more interesting ideas I found to accompany this text is a study on cork, which can be found here: https://www.weareteachers.com/8-fun-activities-celebrate-story-ferdinand/

 

Guided Reading - K

Lexile - AD760L

DRA - 18

AR - 3.7

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review 2018-03-07 17:06
Block 46 (Roy & Castells Series) - Johana Gustawsson,Maxim Jakubowski

True crime writer Alexis Castells is used to dealing with the nastier side of life. When her friend goes missing and then is found murdered in Sweden, Alexis is drawn into finding out who the killer is. It would seem that victims with similar injuries have been found in London. Alexis and profiler Emily Roy are soon caught up in an investigation that will see them travel between London and Sweden, and back to the dark days of World War Two.

 

I had attended an event at a local bookshop during which Johana Gustawsson read from her soon to be published novel, Block 46. That snippet peaked my interest so I was keen to read the novel.

 

This was an interesting story, flitting as it did between 1944 and the concentration camp, and to the present day. The murders were graphic, as was the detail that was provided about life as a prisoner in Buchenwald. Those sections of the novel are particularly hard hitting but given the nature of what happened to so many, to shy away from it and sugar coat it would be to do them a dishonour.

 

I liked that the narrative switched between the modern day and the past. It allowed the story to develop, layering information for the reader to create a more rounded tale. There were times when I felt that chapters finished somewhat abruptly but the technique does draw the reader in.

 

I don’t feel that I got a particular feel for the main characters. Emily appears standoffish and borderline annoying, though there are hints to events in her past having shaped her demeanour. Alexis too comes with baggage, a past that she still hasn’t completely come to terms with. Though the women worked together to solve the case the relationship between them seemed a little distant at times, at others surprisingly close. There is the basis for a good partnership, with great potential and which will hopefully develop in further novels.

 

I liked that the novel was set in both Sweden and London, particularly that most of the action was set in Sweden giving insight into a country and a way of life I wasn’t overly familiar with.

 

The story was engaging, the plot intriguing and the dénouement played out really well.

The translation also worked well. I forgot I was reading a translation and had the impression I was reading the author’s own words, not the translator’s interpretation, which is always a good sign.

 

I hope this review doesn’t make it appear as if I didn’t enjoy the novel. I did. It was entertaining, thought provoking at times and drew me along. I’m glad I read it. I’ll be interested to see what the second Roy and Castells story has to offer.

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