Book Review: Coyote Blue

Coyote Blue

From Christopher Moore, author of Fluke, comes a quirky, irreverent novel of love, myth, metaphysics, outlaw biking, angst, and outrageous redemption.

As a boy growing up in Montana, he was Samson Hunts Alone — until a deadly misunderstanding with the law forced him to flee the Crow reservation at age fifteen. Today he is Samuel Hunter, a successful Santa Barbara insurance salesman with a Mercedes, a condo, and a hollow, invented life. Then one day, shortly after his thirty-fifth birthday, destiny offers him the dangerous gift of love — in the exquisite form of Calliope Kincaid — and a curse in the unheralded appearance of an ancient Indian god by the name of Coyote. Coyote, the trickster, has arrived to transform tranquillity into chaos, to reawaken the mystical storyteller within Sam … and to seriously screw up his existence in the process.

Review:

I love Christopher Moore’s sense of humour and Coyote Blue doesn’t disappoint. The other thing I love about Moore is that he does his research, which he certainly does in this novel. The story is about a man from the Crow nation and the details of the culture and stories feel authentic and respectful.

Coyote Blue follows the life of Sam, going back and forth from his time as an adolescent on the Crow reserve to his life in Santa Barbara as a successful insurance salesman, until the trickster god, Coyote, decides to wreck havoc through his life.

Moore takes us on a journey to imagine how the ancient gods exist in the modern world. Sam is a character we can sympathize with, just trying to live his life the best way he knows how under strange and, at times, terrible circumstances. Coyote is fabulous, an absolutely outrageous character with no moral qualms about anything.

And, like any good story, it is strewn with “truths.” Probably my favourite line in the book is when Sam is contemplating all of the upheaval in his life: “His life was back to normal, and normal wasn’t good enough anymore. He wanted real.”

Coyote Blue made me laugh, made me think, and kept me up late reading so I could see how it all ended.

 

 

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Book Review: Equal Rites

Equal Rites (Discworld #3)

On Discworld, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late. The town witch insists on turning the baby into a perfectly normal witch, thus mending the magical damage of the wizard’s mistake. But now the young girl will be forced to penetrate the inner sanctum of the Unseen University–and attempt to save the world with one well-placed kick in some enchanted shins!
Review:
I have become totally enchanted with Terry Pratchett and the Discworld series. I really don’t know why I wasn’t reading this series earlier.
Equal Rites is the third installment of this series, and the first in the Witches part of the  series. You don’t need to read these in order, which is great in such a large series (41 books long!). I have read the first two books and loved them, but Equal Rites is even better.
The story follows a young witch named Esk as she figures out her wizarding powers — girls aren’t allowed to be wizards, but the wizarding staff given to Esk at her birth doesn’t know that. In the Discworld, women can be witches and men can be wizards and their magic is separate.
Esk is a great character and it was easy to root for her in her quest. Granny, the witch who trains her, is fantastic. She’s got an eccentric practicality and worldview that had me hooked right from the start. I could just picture her on her faulty boomstick, too set in her ways to fly too high or too fast, and, for some reason, I love how much she loves her goats. Both Esk and Granny drew me into this magical world in their own way, and I hope they crop up in another book because I am anxious to see them  again.
I love how Pratchett creates worlds and uses irreverent humour and witty observations to explore what’s going on. He has a way with juxtaposition and pointing out the small details that paint a rich picture. There are so many times when I stopped to reread a sentence or paragraph just because it was so well written or summed up a “truth” in an eloquent few words.

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Book Review: Woolbuddies

Woolbuddies: 20 Irresistibly Simple Needle Felting Projects

You can see how cute these Woolbuddies are. You’re not going to believe how easy it is to make them! Tired of searching for special toys that weren’t mass-produced, former Lucasfilm animator Jackie Huang created the beloved Woolbuddy, a collection of all-natural stuffed animals that reflect his unique imaginative vision. He went on to capture fans at craft fairs, Comic-Con, and specialty boutiques. Here Huang teaches readers, using just some wool and a needle, how to needle felt a wide-eyed owl, a toothy shark, a fuzzy sheep, a towering giraffe, and more. With step-by-step instructions and helpful how-to photographs, crafters can create clutchable keepsakes to be instantly enjoyed and forever cherished.
Review:
I wanted to learn needle felting and was lucky enough to come across this book — I absolutely love it.
It starts with instructions for the basic techniques and tools, something I found invaluable and easy to follow. Then there are 20 projects divided by skill level. There are photos clearly showing how to do each step. I also love the Woolbuddy projects — they are fun and interesting, and kind of cartoonish. Both kids and adults really like them and there is lots of room for variation and personal touches.
I highly recommend this book for beginners, especially if you are not looking for realistic looking projects. The techniques are all clearly laid out and there are a good variety of projects to choose from. This is now my go-to book when I’m looking for inspiration for needle felting.

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Book Review: Skulduggery Pleasant

Skulduggery Pleasant (Skulduggery Pleasant #1)

by Derek Landy, Tom Percival (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator)

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he’ll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That’s right, they’re the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle’s most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.

Review:
This is a really fun book, full of interesting characters, adventure, and action. I was engaged right from the first page.
Skulduggery Pleasant is a skeleton detective with a dry wit and a quick mind and full of snappy quips. You know right away when he appears at the fringes of his friend’s funeral that he is going to be interesting and full of character. He teams up with twelve year old Stephanie to find the Sceptre of the Ancients after her uncle’s death. There is mystery and intrigue right away, pulling both Stephanie and the reader into a magical world hidden in just below the surface of the everyday world.
I liked Stephanie — she is feisty and fearless, willing to fight for what is right. She is sensitive and thoughtful, but also determined, is able to stand up for herself, and is up for adventure.
Landy has created a fantastic magical world in this book, filled with interesting characters and menacing villains. Many of the characters are stereotypes, however, with the evil ones having no redeeming qualities and the good ones very sympathetic.
This is a great start to the series and I can see kids racing through these books.

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