Review of “The Thing Beneath the Bed (The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss” #bookblogger #bookblog #kidsbooks @PatrickRothfuss

If you are looking for this title, it can be found on worldbuilders.com

About

“This is not a book for children.

It looks like a children’s book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of that is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales.

There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children’s picture-book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in.

Simply said: This is not a book for children.”

My Thoughts

First and foremost, an honest disclaimer, This is not a kid’s book. It is delightfully wicked fun, but in no way shape or form should you read this to your unsuspecting child. Unless of course, you are a bit of an asshole. In that case, read on. I had the fortune of hearing a live reading of this by Mr. Rothfuss himself a few years ago.

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

You would think by the sweet saccharine pictures that there was nothing menacing underneath it all, but oh god you will see. I don’t want to give it all away because of spoilers. But this sweet saccharine girl is not what she seems.

The fun part of this book is once you finish it, go back and reread. See what you missed. It is hilarious what we readers gloss over. Try to get your hands on a copy of this, it is out of print I’m afraid. The library has a few copies. Do it. I would give it six stars if I could.

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Rothfuss, Patrick. The Thing Beneath the Bed. Subterranean Press, 2010.

You can also find copies of this and it’s sequel on worldbuilders.com

Graphic Novel Review of “Mouse Guard Fall: 1152” by David Peterson

“Take no duty of the Guard lightly. Friends must not be enemies
Just as enemies must not be friends.
Discerning the two is a life’s work.”

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Stats

Hardcover, First Edition, 192 pages
Published July 21st 2009 by Archaia (first published May 30th, 2007)
Original Title
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
ISBN 1932386572 (ISBN13: 9781932386578)
Edition Language English

Awards

Winner of “Best Publication for Kids” Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.

Winner of “Best Graphic Album-Reprint” Eisner Award, for Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

#87 on the Goodreads Best Comics Ever List

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Book Summary

“Take no duty of the Guard lightly. Friends must not be enemies
Just as enemies must not be friends.
Discerning the two is a life’s work.”
― David Petersen

From the publisher,” The forest is a dangerous place for any animal, especially one as small as a mouse. In the past, the mouse world endured a tyrannical Weasel Warlord until a noble band of mouse soldiers fought back. Ever since the Mouse Guard has defended the paces and prosperity of its kingdom. For generations, this league of scouts, weather-watchers, trailblazers, and protectors has passed won its knowledge and skills.

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Now three of the Guard’s finest have been dispatched. The mission seems simple: They are to find a missing mouse, a grain merchant who never arrived at his destination. But when they see him, they make a shocking discovery—one that involves a treacherous betrayal, a stolen secret, and a rising power that has only one goal: to bring down the Guard…”

My Thoughts

“The best solution is always found at the point of my sword.”―Saxon’s belief

If you were walking around a bookstore and came across this book sitting on a shelf you would think that with its cartoonish depictions of animals wielding swords and bright colors that it was a children’s book. You could not be further from the truth. This is a very nuanced story about betrayal, bravery, endurance, and sincerity; it is most certainly not a children’s story.

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artstation.com

To start off, imagine what it is like to be a mouse in the first place they are small, weak, and fearful. Mice are prey animals in nature. Their entire lives are spent in fear of the unknown next predator around the bend. Almost every creature in the forest could be a predator to them. In response, you build your home in the most protected and sheltered spot you can find and hope for the best. Now imagine you are a guard mouse. You are weak and small by nature. However, you have learned to be strong because you have to be.  You must be brave because the smaller you are, the more bravery means and there are mice to protect. Thus flows the story of mice who are brave sent out into the forest to protect the weaker.

Stylistically, the panels are superbly drawn. The illustrations look as if they glow from within like light shining through the trees in autumn. Wind could rush therough my room as a read this and I would not be more convinced that it was fall. The illustrator completely nailed what fall is supposed to feel like.

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Conclusion

I would recommend this to anyone over the age of ten. I think if a child tried to read this before that age, much of the subtleties would be lost on them. But, I would especially recommend this to any comic book/graphic enthusiasts out there. This is a graphic novel that graphic novel lovers, love.

Novel Review – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….”

“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….” 
― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Stats

5 out of 5 Stars

  • Paperback, 444 pages

  • Published May 25th, 2004 by William Morrow / HarperCollins / Harper Perennial (first published March 1st, 2002)

  • Original Title Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

  • ISBN0380813815 (ISBN13: 9780380813810)

  • Edition Language English

  • URL http://www.chrismoore.com/lamb.html

About

From the publisher, “The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years—except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more—except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.” 

My Thoughts

Christopher Moore enjoys poking ideas with sticks to see what leaks out. It is obvious in all of his marvelous works: Fool, The Island of The Sequined Love Nun, A Dirty Job, and more. What leaked out this time was the bawdy, heartfelt, and raucous retelling of the life and times of Jesus Christ told to us by his slightly careworn childhood best friend Biff. What better way to understand a mighty person and a mighty goal than to see them down, befuddled, pimple spotted, and hormone riddled?

Many authors over the years have taken a minor character and retold the story through their eyes. West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Hamlet was retold through the confounded eyes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Seeing a famous plot or idea from a minor character allows an additional level of gravitas. Basically, if you want to find out the merit of someone, don’t ask them directly. You ask their barber or their waiter that they deal with on a daily basis. Then you will know if they are an asshole or not. So, Moore asked Biff about Jesus. 

In this story, Moore seeks to fill in the missing years of Jesus’s life via his best friend Biff. Biff, newly resurrected by the Angel Raziel, whom we meet again in “The Stupidest Angel”, is set to narrate what the Son of God was up to in his formative years. In all the world, your best friend always has the real goods on you.  What happens is twenty years various interactions, debauchery, and foibles with deities from all religions and walks of life. They learn from the three wise men who are a magician, a yogi, and Buddhist respectively. They learn from Confuscious and chinese concubines. They encounter the last yeti and rescue children from Kali. In there is a demon too. I think most importantly we get to know Maggie, also known as Mary Magdalene, who through modern Christianity is sullied and besmirched as nothing but a sinful woman.  Here she is given a much better and more fitting role that ends on a wonderfully bittersweet note. It is brilliant for Moore to acknowledge a world full of information and chances to learn. 

Biff is a perfect counterpoint to Joshua. Oftentimes Joshua is pedantic, naive, and prone to arrogance, while Biff remains steadfast, humorous, and realistic. I enjoyed reading their travels and adventures as Joshua learned to become the true savior and son of God. Despite the sometimes adolescent level of humor, fart and dick jokes, Moore still retained a respect for the subject matter. Moore is not trying to make fun of Christian beliefs, I think that he is attempting to humanize a godlike character that in his biblical grandness loses what each of us mere mortals can relate to. Jesus had foibles, and acne, and all of that. Celebrate it.  He rose above it all to become the deity that is worshiped today and that is pretty damn awesome. Moore writing a story like this is both an admirable and successful endeavor while being terrifying at the same time. 

“He invented Kung Fu when translated to English

means method by which short,

bald guys can kick the bejeezus out of you.”

― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Holy hell this was fun to read. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I am a fan of taking something that is serious, turning it on its head and roughing it up a bit. If your beliefs can’t survive a good flogging, then this isn’t the story for you. Think Monty Python meets Mel Brooks meets Black Adder. The world is too serious right now. We need to be able to chuckle at our gods and know that we will come out on the other side no worse for wear. If I could recommend any living comedy/satire writers out there it would be Moore and specifically this book. It is a worthwhile read and if you need to not take yourself so seriously for a few hours, please read it.  

Graphic Novel Review – Book Love by Debbie Tung

All the book loving feels.

 

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“The book I’m reading is about a magical world of dragons and wizards! They go on adventures and explore unknown places! And then at the mansion in Hertfordshire, a wealthy man, and Mr. Darcy…Oh, wait…that’s a different story.”

“You’re reading two books at the same time again, huh?”

 

About

From the publisher, “Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers.

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognizable—making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated.”

My Thoughts

On one hand, I do believe that Debbie Tung is my spirit animal.

 

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The feels. 

 

Who else but my spirit animal could understand my profound love of books? Thank you, Debbie Tung, for illustrating what I feel so deeply when I hold a book. I literally cried when Harry Potter was over and was straight up depressed that I live in a world with no powers or anything cool.

 

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You understand my pain.

 

But on the other hand, I almost feel like I need to give up my book cred now. This book was just too long with too much love. At least it is for one sitting. This book reminds me of a gigantic chocolate milkshake. The largest chocolate milkshake in the history of all milkshakes. On the first sip, your taste buds are literally doing the salsa with all the flavor. On the 50th sip, it is still great but you are losing some of the subtler flavors. On the 150th sip, you are nauseated and will not drink another chocolate shake in the near future. This book is like that, well not the nauseated part.  I will happily adore, embrace, remember and understand her love of books (and mine as well) for about 50 pages. I have been in every one of the scenarios she draws adorable cartoons of. Believe me, I agree and get it. After page 50 it gets repetitive. There are only so many different scenarios in which I can get all the feels in one sitting. After page 100 it loses me.

 

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I have huffed so many books.

 

If a reader were to pick this up and randomly turn to any page, read it, smile, and move one about your day it would be perfect. Seriously perfect. These are scenarios that a reader can visit again and again.

I would recommend this for an adorable coffee table book. One that you turn to occasionally when you need a smile, read a few pages, get the feels and put down.

*All images are illustrations by Debbie Tung*

 

Graphic Novel Review – The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

Question: Who Watches The Watchman?
Answer: The Boys.

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By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39087797

“Remember the seven Ps. Seven what? Proper preparation and planning… Prevent piss-poor performance.” ― Garth Ennis, The Boys, Volume 1: The Name of the Game

Awards

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About

From the publisher, “THIS IS GOING TO HURT! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will. Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman, and The Female are The Boys: A CIA backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth-superpower. Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them-sometimes-need to be taken out of the picture That’s when you call in THE BOYS”

My Thoughts

“As the old saying goes: With great power comes the total fuckin’ certainty that you’re gonna turn into a cunt.”
― Garth Ennis, The Boys, Volume 9: The Big Ride

The Boys is a hefty series written by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Ennis, of “Preacher” fame, that “blows the bloody doors off” of the Superhero genre. This is not your tidy and inoffensive Superman story. Rather, this is bloody, gory, disgusting, and brutal.  It is repulsive, but in typical Ennis style, the reader can not turn away.

The Plot

This story takes the adage of absolute power corrupting and applies it to superheroes.  The superheroes in this story are called The Seven, which is a nod to the Justice League, and are your basic despotic, raping, and pillaging psychopaths. They kill for the fun of it, lord over humans, live to the excess and are generally horrible but powerful human beings.  In turn, the book explores governments’ and by extension societies’ response to the superheroes with a band of misfit black ops soldiers of varying degrees of sociopathic and homicidal tendencies. They, too, are extremely screwed up in exciting and equally terrifying ways. Their sole purpose is to keep the “supes” in check.  In the center of all this is a sweet and goofy love story. No really, I am serious. Ennis makes it work and it is awesome.

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The plot follows The Boys through a series of screwed up interactions with superheroes. The Boys “manage, police, and sometimes liquidate Vought-American’s superhumans,” so that is what they do. They attempt to keep the supes in check, things go awry, there is much sex and death, people die in awful ways, and there is always another superhero to stop.  Neither side can claim the moral high ground.  Through the series, we learn backstory about why The Boys are the way they are, and why each of them has a reason to hate supes. By the end, we have a much richer picture of The Boys and some closure to the story. It would be exhausting if the writing and art weren’t so good.

Additionally, Ennis created one of his characters into the guise of Simon Pegg as a sort of fanboy nod. To some, they find it distracting to read about “Wee” Hughie (aka Simon Pegg) walking into an orgy but my sophomoric sense of humor found it utterly hilarious.

The Art and Execution

The art is a very “Marvel comic” style, purposely drawn to convey the superhero motif. The supes and their world are drawn and colored to emphasize the grandness and gaudiness of the superhero world. Versus The Boys who are dark and melancholic.

The Writing

Typical of Garth Ennis’s style, the writing is large, precise, and excessive. If you are familiar with Preacher, you will be familiar with his style. This is a hard book. It is full of sex, and violence to the extremes. If this bothers you, maybe look for something from a different author.  But for me, this severity and excessiveness are part of its charm. Superheroes are maniacs at their core. This book acts on the extremes of superheroes with extreme characters in retaliation. Who else could keep superheroes in check than people with nothing to lose except their own personal moral code?

I Try a Boston Cooler

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Image from atlasobscura.com

Once again, in my attempt to try the unusual I came across a “recipe” for this drink on one of my favorite sites, atlasobscura.com In a section called gastro obscura people write in on local favorites of their homes. A Northeastern treat of the US is a soda shake that is made from ginger ale and vanilla ice cream. Sometimes blended, often times just a float. It is a spicy and foamy treat that is perfect on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Normally this treat is made with Vernor’s Ginger Ale, but I couldn’t find any after visiting three grocery stores so I settled for a locally made spicy ale that was made with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Pretty good stuff. It is delicious, and I think I prefer it to the famous root beer float that is so popular in the United States. Root beer lends itself to tasting rather medicine like, while good ginger ale is spicy and creamy. Definitely try it if you can find a good ginger ale, or make your own. (Which is another adventure entirely)

 

The recipe is taken from https://www.geniuskitchen.com/

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces ginger ale (Vernors is the best)
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Directions

  1. Pour ginger ale in very large glass.
  2. Add 1 large scoop of ice cream.
  3. It will foam quite a bit. You may add more ginger ale or ice cream, to suit your taste.
  4. Enjoy!

What am I cooking? Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding/Watalappan

#993 of 1001 Foods to Eat Before You Die

What Is It?

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http://www.indiamart.com

From Wikipedia, “Jaggery is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar consumed in Asia, Africa and some countries in the Americas. It is a concentrated product of cane juice and often date or palm sap without separation of the molasses and crystals, and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color.  It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, and up to 20% moisture, with the remainder, made up of other insoluble matter, such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers. Ancient scriptures on Ayurveda mention various medicinal uses based on the method of preparation and age.”

How It Tastes.

Jaggery tastes like Molasses and brown sugar had a lovely baby.

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White sugar is yucky.

It tastes like a ginger snap cookie that is light on ginger, but heavy on molasses.

Basically, it is delicious tasting, but you really have to like a darker sugar. Which I do. The only thing I put white sugar on is cereal, and even then it is suspect. When it comes to tea and pretty much anything else, brown sugar is my go-to. I think brown sugar has a greater depth of flavor and Jaggery is no exception. It is the ultimate brown sugar.

A word to the wise, jaggery is crunchy, so either a mortar and pestle or a little water to melt it are in order.

The pudding is melt in your mouth excellent. Rich in flavors and anything in my opinion with cardamon is a winner. The raisins add a specific subtle flavor too. Do it, make it, try it. It is worth the effort it takes to make.

Recipe Used.

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Image courtesy of http://www.loveandotherspices.com

Steamed Jaggery and Coconut Milk Pudding

Recipe Taken from loveandotherspices.com

Ingredients:
250 g Jaggery
1 cup thick Coconut milk
4 eggs
5 to 6 Cardomoms crushed
Pinch of salt
Cashews roasted and sliced
Raisins to garnish

Method:

Crush the jaggery (I used a Mortar for this), add about 2 tbsp of water and melt it in low flame. Once melted take it from the fire, keep whisking till it cools down a bit.
Add the coconut milk to the mixture and whisk.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with crushed cardamoms and a pinch of salt.
Combine the two mixtures and beat.
Strain the mixture, pour it into a bowl and steam for about 25 minutes.
Garnish it with cashews and raisins.
Notes:
* You can use a caramel syrup to increase the sweetness. Make it by caramelizing 3 tbsp of sugar and adding 3 to 4 tbsp of water, stirring continuously to get the right consistency. Pour it over the cooled pudding.
* This is best served chilled.