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BeatleBangs1964 (United States)
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Wintergirls
Wintergirls
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.50
43 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Siren Song of Self Destruction, Sept. 1 2010
Ce commentaire est de: Wintergirls (Hardcover)
You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever,
But you rode upon a steamer to the violence of the sun. -- Eric Clapton from "Tales of Brave Ulysses, 1967

Lia, 17 has a severe case of anorexia. Each chapter is introduced by her weight, e.g. 68.0. In addition to her eating disorder, her friend Cassandra Jane (Cassie), also anorexic died. The night Cassie died, she called Lia 33 times, but Lia never answered her calls. That haunts Lia and compounds her sense of guilt over her friend's death. Lia also believes that Cassie is appearing to her and trying to contact her from a spiritual plane. The siren song of anorexia and self starvation is too great for Lia to ignore.

And the colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave ulysses:
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips. -- Eric Clapton, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" 1967

Lia mulls over their friendship. The girls met when they were in the early grades and, over time made a pact to see who could not only be the thinnest, but stay the thinnest. Lia's resolution not to eat if she can help it has resulted in two hospitalizations and her mother, who is a doctor is at a loss as to how to reach her. Lia wants nothing to do with her and has moved in with her father, stepmother and 9-year-old stepsister.

Cassie, unlike Lia had bulimarexia. She binged and purged, whereas Lia scrupulusly takes no more than 500 calories a day and spends hours exercising to make her already prominent bones more visible. Her distorted body image leads her to believe that if her bones are not visible, then she has pockets of body fat that has to be removed.

The aptly named Cassandra, like her mythical counterpart appears to have made true predictions that nobody heeded. Lia set a goal of zero pounds for herself. She appears to want to erase herself from existence. Her psychiatric issues are many; in addition to her eating disorder, she believes she houses evil forces that can only be appeased by cutting herself. Like so many people with eating disorders, Lia tries to hide her lack of eating from her father and stepmother and resorts to age old tricks when forced to do regular weigh-ins.

And you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter. -- Eric Clapton, 1967

Although I personally did not like Lia, her story is a belivable one and a very harrowing one. This book is quite well written as it is told from Lia's perspective. Lia is a runaway train of self destruction and even Cassie's death and her own mother's medical information about what happens to the body during starvation fails to deter Lia or make any inroads into her behavior.

Eric Clapton with Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses" is easily the sound track of this book.

Tension of Opposites, The
Tension of Opposites, The
by Kristina McBride
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Tug of War, Sept. 1 2010
Ce commentaire est de: Tension of Opposites, The (Hardcover)
"If there's anything that you want, if there's anything I can do,
Just call on me and I'll send it along with love from me to you." -- Beatles, 1963

Kristina McBride is a genius. It's as simple as that.

In 2007, a young girl named Noelle was kidnapped from her hometown of Centerville, Ohio. Her Beatle-coiffed brother, Cooper, some 2 years younger and her best friend Tessa never give up the ship in trying to find her. They hold out hope that Noelle is alive and will somehow, someday return.

Tessa takes her best friend's disappearance especially hard. She worries constantly about Noelle and tables her social life until she gets some answers. She figuratively dons the hair shirt, sack and ashes until she learns Noelle's fate.

Noelle DOES return, 2 years later in 2009. (You can tell by the dates given in the book and references that are made when this story takes place). She places a telephone call that sets her rescue in motion. Tessa could not be happier than if she was her friend's immediate family. Like an amoeba, she shifts her life to absorb Noelle, becoming overprotective. Tessa's new boyfriend, a singlularly kind and mature boy named Max is expecially tolerant and willing to wait for Tessa to resume a social life that doesn't include hovering over Noelle.

Noelle has a clever agenda of her own. The school's quarterback, a cliche named Chip puts the moves on her and she goes along because, as she put it, she wanted a normal high school experience. Naturally, the quarterback's girlfriend, the Alpha Queen Bee, Jessie Richards has her nose out of joint. Spoiled and overfed with a sense of social entitlement, Jessie will stop at nothing to snag Chip back. She uses all and sundry for her scratching post as she sharpens her claws for Noelle. Sadly, Noelle's plan backfires as she falls for Chip, who is just a player and a user. I did love the way she cut down Jessie. She clipped her claws just as Jessie was sharpening them on her and I felt Jessie got what she had coming.

Tessa, meanwhile watches over Noelle like a protective parent or older sister. In time, the girls sort out their relationship and Max, ever the tolerant boyfriend accepts that this is something that Tessa just has to do. He is Chip's opposite number. Cerebral and introspective, Max shows a maturity and a respect for his peers that is refreshing. He is truly a friend and a gentleman to Tessa. In time, she realizes what a good friend she has in Max.

Her photo teacher is just as good a friend. He teaches his class to photograph opposite concepts and to do a display. His verbiage, "the tension of opposites" is a theme that runs rampant throughout this book. Tessa and Noelle complement one another - Tessa is blond and Noelle brunette; Tessa focusses outward and Noelle, after her traumatic experiences becomes focussed inward. Max and Chip are polar opposites in values and personalities.

As the 2009-2010 school year draws to a close, the characters are drawn in sharper focus. Some are drawn closer to each other, closer together and others are drawn apart. The photo theme, that is of stilling an image (and perhaps time, metaphorically) is used in a very effective way.

This is a book I would highly recommend. It gives a good, accurate and very plausible picture of the trauma a kidnap survivor endures. Gemma, is another excellent book about a young girl who was kidnapped. Gemma, like Noelle was an abuse survivor and, like Noelle rose out of the ashes of porn, cruelty and abuse like a beautiful phoenix bird or a sunrise.

The Beatles' 1963 classic "From Me to You" and Abba's 1975 hit "SOS" could easily be the soundtrack of this book.

Featherless/Desplumado
Featherless/Desplumado
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.00
9 used & new from CDN$ 22.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Fly Like an Eagle!, Sept. 1 2010
Ce commentaire est de: Featherless/Desplumado (Hardcover)
"I want to fly like an eagle, till I'm free. Fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me." -- Steve Miller Band, 1976

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary." -- Isaiah, 40:31

Tomasito, a tween (8-12) lives with his single father in a small trailer in Fresno, California. New in town from Mendota, Tomasito fears being excluded and ostracized by his peers because he has spina bifida and needs a wheelchair.

To give his son some inspiration, Tomasito's father buys him a little bird. The first things Tomasito notices about the bird is that he is featherless (desplumado) and that he has a withered leg. Tomasito wonders why on earth his Papi bought him such a bird, but his wise Papi tells him that the bird CAN fly, but in a very different way.

Meanwhile, on the school front, Tomasito is coping with a new set of kids and rules. One girl, Marlena, reaches out to him and even encourages him to join the school soccer team. She sees beyond Tomasito's wheelchair and really insists that he join the team. Tomasito thinks it over and even has a dream about flying with his bird, Desplumado.

Luckily, Tomasito takes Marlena's advice. He does join the soccer team and, once having spread his wings, so to speak, he in turn is able to love and reach out to his beautiful bird, the key to Tomasito tapping into his inner resources.

This is a beautiful book with lovely illustrations. It is written in English and Spanish so readers can get comfortable with both languages. That is also a form of cultural sharing. Tomasito's kind Papi and his friend Marlena as well as Desplumado will find permanent places in the hearts of those who read this story. This masterpiece of a book belongs in classrooms and in families.

Nathan's Wish: A Story about Cerebral Palsy is a good companion book to this gem.

Winter Garden
Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah
Edition: Hardcover
57 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trekking Through the Tundra to Sunshine, Aug. 28 2010
Ce commentaire est de: Winter Garden (Hardcover)
"Mother, you had me, but I didn't have you.
I wanted you but you didn't want me,
So I got to tell you, Goodbye, goodbye." -- John Lennon, 1970

Kristin Hannah, a gifted chick lit author (and I LOVE chick lit) has done it again. She has written a compelling story, set in Washington State and created a cast of memorable and plausible characters. In short, Kristin Hannah is a genius. It's as simple as that.

The story opens in 2001, when sisters Nina, (b. 1963) and Meredith (b. 1960) are facing major life changes. Nina, a photojournalist is in Africa doing a photo shoot while Meredith remains near the home she grew up. She, her husband Jeff and two daughters Jillian, 19 and in med school and Maddie, 17 all pitch in to help Meredith's parents. Her father was at the end of his life when the story opens and the sisters have a poor relationship with their mother. Meredith traces the turning point in their bad relationship to an incident involving a play she and Nina put on in 1972 when they were 12 and 9 respectively. At that point, Meredith vows that she will never listen to another fairy tale their mother tells EVER again.

"Children, don't do what I have done, I couldn't walk and I tried to run.
So I got to tell you, Goodbye, goodbye. Mama don't go, Daddy come home." -- John Lennon, 1970 from "Mother"

This story is far deeper than the snow, which is used metaphorically as well as realistically throughout the story. Nina and Meredith's mother is from Russia and the wonderful references to Russian food and culture make for a culturally sharing experience.

The sisters' father eventually dies, but after he extracts a promise from his daughters to get their mother to tell one particular story in toto. They promise, but keeping it is what makes up for a large part of the story. They have their work cut out for them.

Meredith is the efficient, take charge personality, a quality that was probably inculcated in her from an early age as being the older sister. Nina, having written getting love from their mother as a lost cause embarks upon a successful career that requires her to travel for extensive periods of time. She has a loving boyfriend who is good to her and good for her, as Meredith's husband Jeff is a good man.

The sisters travel in different orbits - Meredith as trying to do everything she can for her widowed mother, even making some very difficult decisions. Nina, globe-trotting and rising in her career only to hit some rough spots when their father died returns to the family homestead to make equally difficult, yet very different decisions.

Meredith and Nina examine their approaches to adult relationships and both wonder why their father Evan married their mother Anya. They both had warm, loving relationships with their father (the apple orchard is a symbol of fruitful love as they have an apple orchard on the family property) and the snow is a metaphor for their mother, whom the girls understandably feel is cold and distant as an Arctic tundra. Her blue eyes, unlike those of a Siberian husky, radiate coldness as opposed to a loving, playful side. Anya is very much like an Arctic tundra.

Both sisters have more in common than they realized. Meredith's husband feels rebuffed by Meredith and I just loved it when he challenged her by saying he was on her "to do list" because she appeared to approach everything in life as a challenge to be checked off. Nina, whose boyfriend Danny is a very loving man wants her to make a commitment to him, yet she teeters on the precipice of doing just that.
knows why Evan married Anya, nor why Anya seems to hate them.

The girls' father knows a very different Anya and a story that is far deeper and one that travels much futher than either daughter can imagine. A loving, tolerant man, Evan understands Anya and spent his life trying to encourage the girls to do likewise, depsite her aloof demeanor. The promise he extracts from his daughters does change the world and the tundra starts to thaw....

"Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting.
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it's all righ, it's all right." -- George Harrison, 1969

Anya's story is the foundation on which the story eventually rests. Without giving anything away, let's just say this novel is one that is well worth the trek through the tundra and well worth every page. The story the girls finally hear has a profoundly meteoric impact on their lives and their view of the world. It closes with an epilogue of the characters in 2010, which leaves readers with a sense of fullness and satisfaction. John Lennon's classic "Mother" and also the George Harrison classic "Here Comes the Sun" underscore this book.

This is truly an outstanding novel about relationships and how secrets divide and are usually uncovered over time. What makes this book special is the development of the characters; their compelling story and the writing itself. I highly recommend this book.

The Boy from Baby House 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America
The Boy from Baby House 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America
by Alan Philps
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.03

5.0 out of 5 stars From Russia, With Love, Aug. 26 2010
In 1990, a young boy named Vanya was born with possible cerebral palsy. Left in an orphanage, the young boy was relegated to an overcrowded ward where he and his fellow inmates received minimal care and even less in the way of love. Clad in rags and often left alone for long periods of time, Vanya makes it plain that he is quite bright. He makes overtures to the other children and even to the staff. Sadly, many of the children are physically abused at worst, neglected and ignored at best.

The sad thing about these Kafkaesque institutions that would make even Dickens cringe is that many of the children are ignored to the point where they no longer function. They are kept confined and, as they age out of the nursery are relegated to asylums where they often serve the remainder of their lives. The "internat" as these hellholes/asylums are called are nothing short of horrifying and appalling. They are, as another reviewer on the U.S. boards aptly stated, little more than concentration camps. Sadly, staff in such places have not received training and are coming in with a Stalinist approach. Vanya even served time in such an institution, left to simmer in his own waste as he was often kept confined.

Vanya lucks into a kind new ward worker. She shows the children affection, but is reprimanded for her efforts. She does notice the bright young boy with the smile and the ready questions. Vanya is special.

In addition to the kind ward staffer, Vanya meets another angel. Her name is Sarah Philips and she works to secure his release from Baby House 10. He makes overtures to Sarah, who is captivated by him. That is a turning point in both of their lives. Sarah encourages her husband Alan, a photojournalist to use the media on behalf of Vanya and his fellow inmates. Sarah and her friend Vika, a Russian volunteer save Vanya from the hellhole where he is incarcerated.

The resilient young survivor becomes part of a large movement of foster parents. Offers to adopt Vanya start coming in. The winner was a woman named Paula. She is an educator and psychologist with a Russian background. She is the ideal fit and match for her new son. Once in America, Vanya becomes John and is "Americanized." John's life in Pennsylvania is a 180 turn around from the horrific and alarming conditions he knew in the orphanage and snakepit. In time, he becomes a Boy Scout. He is prepared at all times - his resilience, no doubt a survival mechanism he finely honed in the orphanage serves him well in his new environment.

This is a beautiful story that will probably make you cry. John's bright success stands out in stark contrast to the life he once knew. The book is written in a clear, straightforward style. Although the horrors of John's early life can never be minimized, the undercurrent and undertone of hope runs throughout the book. It is what makes readers want to know more.

Thanks to the efforts of Sarah Philips and Kay Bratt (who was directly involved with an orphanage in China), as well as a 2009 expose on the atrocities of abuse and neglect that are currently taking place in the Czech republic, foundations and organazations have been started with the idea of liberating children from these conditions and providing a healthy enviroment in which they have a chance to thrive and survive. We can only hope that books such as this and Silent Tears will spur many more people to action. Another reviewer made a good point - we DO need organizations like Amnesty International who rescue people who have been wrongly incarcerated.

"On Eagle's Wings" is the perfect soundtrack for this book.

Silent Tears: A Journey Of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage
Silent Tears: A Journey Of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage
by Kay Bratt
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambassador of Goodwill, Aug. 26 2010
In 2003, Kay Bratt and her husband left North Carolina for rural China as Kay's husband relocated their family there for work reasons. The Bratt family anticipated many changes, but not the major changes of helping Chinese babies who had been abandoned and relegated to overcrowded orphanages. Kay initially planned to volunteer part-time at a local orphanage for a few days a week, but the children she met at the orphanage convinced her to stay.

In addition to absorbing, appreciating and having respect for Chinese culture, Kay Bratt has made every good faith effort to demonstrate fairness and tolerance of all she enconutered. Granted, the conditions at the orphanage were appalling and horrific descriptions of outright abuse might even shock Dickens, but she soldiered on, despite her sometimes overwhelming despair.

Orphanage staff received very few supplies and barely enough food to get through the day. They had to inure themselves to their harsh surroundings and those of the children in their care. Many infants died from illnesses that were often untreated as proper medical treatment was not readily available. Food was a scarcity for the children in the orphanage. Malaria-bearing mosquitoes were always a threat and sadly, there were not enough nets to cover the infants. Sadly, some young charges starved. Infant casualties were not considered uncommon.

Fortunately, Kay Bratt was able to secure the trust of the women with whom she worked. In time, she and the staff mobilized forces to feed and protect the children in their care. She rounded up a group of volunteers to bring needed supplies to the orphanage. She was also instrumental in securing medical attention for the children.

Kay Bratt, by then familiar with Chinese culture knew all too well the challenge in getting the Chinese government to stop refusing her entreaties on behalf of the orphanage children. Her biggest fear, aside from abuse and neglect of the children which she witnessed was that the Chinese government might stop allowing American families from adopting the children. In time, she was disabused of her fears as the Chinese government lauded her for bringing the plight of the children to the world's attention via the media.

This is a truly beautiful book that might make you cry. Readers learn about the plight of many Chinese children in orphanages as well as the Bratt family's life in China. Like yin and yang, the balance between portraying both the Bratt family as well as the orphanage gives readers a balanced picture of life in China. I found learning about Chinese culture and the challenges as well as the triumphs the Bratt family faced very interesting and enlightening.

Kay Bratt is truly an Ambassador on a Goodwill Mission. She plainly loves China and China loves her in return. She does not sugar coat things nor does she portray herself as being perfect. She rails against a system and some customs she disagrees with. She is very honest in her presentation and lets readers see the many faces of China and her many people. Also to Kay Bratt's credit, she kowtows to no one and stays true to what she believes is the right thing to do.

I loved the last chapter where e-mails from some of the parents of the children mentioned in the book are included. It really is a very uplifting part of the Bratts' quest to improve the quality of life for many children in China. I especially loved the glossary in Mandarin as a quick tutorial in talking to children just coming from China.

The Boy from Baby House 10: From the Nightmare of a Russian Orphanage to a New Life in America is a good companion book to this one.

The Mammoth Book of the Beatles
The Mammoth Book of the Beatles
by Sean Egan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.15
12 used & new from CDN$ 3.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Mega Beatles!, Aug. 26 2010
This is a wonderful Beatle book that Beatle fans will undoubtedly enjoy. It is a treasure trove of interviews, articles and critiques that fill every reader from the inveterate Beatle fan to the person just coming into them with a well-guided Magical Mystery Tour. The price is reasonable too, considering tht this book is almost 600 pages! articles, etc. that together present an insightful tour down memory lane.

Sean Egan's writing makes readers feel that they have that Ticket to Ride the Magical Mystery Tour bus and take in a plethora of Beatle information. He is a gifted writer who brings the Beatles and their life experiences to readers. He keeps his tone objective and one gets the impression that he is coming at this from a reporter's angle.

Egan does critiques of the recordings in an objective, yet respectful tone. He uses clear guide posts or markers for travelers down the Beatles' Long & Winding Roads. He wisely and aptly titled his book sections Life & Art; Dissenters; Film & TV; Beatle Women; Interviews; and In the End.

Other voices are included in this book such as Hunter Davies, who wrote a very sanitized, toned down Beatle biography entitled "The Beatles." Maureen Cleave's article about John Lennon's infamous 1966 comment, "more popular than Jesus" along with early Beatle influences such as Astrid Kirscherr, George Martin, Paul McCartney as well as Cynthia Lennon. You also get treated to a discography of Beatles and post-Beatle releases.

This is amust-have for Beatle fans especially. It deserves a place of honor among Beatle fans. For those who are marginally fond of the Beatles, just coming into the Beatles or who aren't even fans will get a lot out of this book as well. It explores Sixties culture and the part the Beatles had in shaping the soundtrack of our lives and defining an entire generation as well as generations to come.

Excellent book. I highly recommend it and urge people to buy this as a gift for the rabid Beatle fans they know. This gets a hearty YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!

Freak Observer,The(Gr.7-12)
Freak Observer,The(Gr.7-12)
by Blythe Woolston
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Downward Spiral, Aug. 26 2010
While the writing is brilliant, I didn't like the story or the majority of the characters. Loa, 17 is living a nightmare. She witnesses the traumatic death of her friend and lives in a household of anger and strangers. This death follows shortly after Loa's sister Asta died of Rhett's Syndrome at age 8. Asta's death left an irreparable hole in the family. Loa even introduces them as a family more prone to yelling than to hugging.

The problem with this family is that, save for Little Harold, they just don't seem to communicate. The parents even get angry at Loa when she is injured in a bicycle accident. Loa's father Big Harold is verbally abusive and Loa's mother sounds cold and unloving. Only Little Harold, 7 is loving and expressive. He is the only likable member of that household and one of the few likable characters in the book. Tenderhearted and kind, he cries over the plight of the poultry that are killed to feed the family.

Loa is a brilliant mathematician who views everything through the lens of physics. Her teachers are kind and supportive and you want to cheer their efforts. Despite Loa's PTSD, which is understandable considering the trauma she suffered when her friend Esther was killed, Loa tries to maintain her Mr. Spockian mask as she tries to sort out the issues that have cropped up in her life.

I tried to like this book, but just could not. Loa was not a likable character, despite the PTSD, which one would think would make her more sympathetic. I didn't like Loa's parents at all.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beatle Fun, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!, Aug. 25 2010
This Beatle themed version of Monopoly is ideal for the inveterate Beatle fans. From the Beatle-song named pieces (my favorites are "Here Comes the Sun" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer") to the stops on the board named for places in the Beatles' lives are sure to delight fans of all ages. As you go down the Long & Winding Road acquiring property, try to dodge the Taxman or he'll charge you a percentage of your savings.

It's more fun if you play some Beatle songs while you're playing the game. That will really get you even more into it. We added a rule - if you end up in jail, you have to sing "Help!"

Yes, a fun way to have a Beatle bonding session. I love this game

The Beatles Trivial Pursuit Collector's Edition Board Game
The Beatles Trivial Pursuit Collector's Edition Board Game

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love it, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!, Aug. 25 2010
If you are an inveterate, life-time, hard-core Beatles' fan, you might find it hard to get people to play this with you as they will understandably think you have an unfair advantage. Hard-core fans will most likely know most if not all of the answers in the Beatle version of Trivial Pursuit. For those who know arcane bits of information such as what was on the flip side of each single and their release dates and what was painted on George Harrison's bungalow and where and when George Harrison wrote his very first song, quote the Beatles' movies in full and the dates the Beatles played in Boston and Denver, then you'll probably think this game is child's play! Even so, I doubt you'll be disappointed as a) you get to talk about the Beatles and b) you can see non-fans and less enthusiastic fans beam as they acquire Beatle information. You get a Ticket to Ride Beatlemania and you will enjoy the ride! This game rocks!

I just love this game and wish I could get others to be willing to play it with me. Fans, regardless of their level of expertise will learn a lot from this game and very hard-core fans will pick up the error in "which book did John pull off the bookcase in 'Help!'"? Hint: The answer is a book John wrote, but the answer given in the game is not the correct book John authored.

We added a rule while playing this game. Every time a movie trivia question comes up, the person who has to answer the question also has to sing the title song from the movie. If you want to have a fun, laid-back party, invite your Beatle fan (or in my case, Beatle tolerant) friends over, pop in an early Beatles' CD and learn about the Beatles!

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