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The Little Fir Tree (Margaret Wise Brown): A Special Christmas Review

Recommended, Repeatable

I have to admit some bias here: I love this book. My father read it to my sister and me every Christmas Eve when we were little, and that tradition continues to this day. He reads to us from an old version which his mother gave to him when he was young; the new version has condensed the story into fewer pages, has updated illustrations by Jim Lamarche, and has cut out the sheet music and a few of the songs, but the story remains the same, right down to the old-school capitalizations of words like “Spring” and “Winter” and the little boy having a “lame” leg. This is no Goodnight Moon; the story is more complicated and not rhyming, more suitable for kids 3 and up. The author does a great job of making you feel empathy for the main character, which is fairly impressive considering that the main character is a tree. Though it is a Christmas book, there are no religious themes. It’s an uplifting holiday story about the hope, love, and joy of Christmas, and it’s very, very repeatable.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Night of the Living Trekkies (Kevin David Anderson): A Special Halloween Joint Review

CleverHandle’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Penguinhegemony’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
CH: I hate zombies.  HATE them.  With the exception of Shaun of the Dead, I have loathed every piece of zombie-related media I have ever encountered.  If you told me I’d be writing a five-star review of a “zombies at a Star Trek convention” book, I would have laughed (even though I’m a TNG fan).  I read it intending to provide a counterpoint to Penguinhegemony’s review.  And in a way, I was right: I didn’t like this book.  I LOVED it.  Anderson pulls you in right from the start, with likable characters and a humorous style.  The writing is excellent: Anderson does a great job of building tension, and during some of the more dramatic scenes, I could almost hear a soundtrack in my head.  The plot is fast-paced and engaging, the book is a page-turner (I read it in one sitting), and Anderson keeps you intrigued and entertained throughout.  You don’t need to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy this, but there are a lot of clever nods to the series throughout, including chapter titles borrowed from episodes of the show.  This is the best book I’ve read all year, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys humor, tension, and good writing — even if you hate zombies.

P: I generally like zombie apocalypse stories, but I wouldn’t consider most of them to be something I would recommend.  I picked up Night of the Living Trekkies (tag line: “They thought space was the final frontier.  They were wrong.”) thinking that it would a fun book to make fun of with a ridiculous, easily dismissible premise: zombies at a Star Trek convention.  As I read it, I had the growing realization that it was, to my horror, actually really good.  It solves most of the issues I have with the genre at large: the plot is fun and unpredictable, the characters are well developed and likeable, and the environment is interesting and believable.  Surprisingly, I have to heartily recommend Night of the Living Trekkies as a well developed, action packed read and not just yet another forgettable zombie thriller.
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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy