Friday, May 31, 2013



DirectorJim Mickle
Rating: 1 (3) /5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1834582/nonmodal

Stakeland was an interesting drama set in a dystopian world right after the fall of our current society. It displayed the dualistic sides of humanity’s potential: the side that would welcome their fellows and the side that would desire to subjugate anyone not under their sway.  The story focuses through the main character Martin as he travels with “Mister”, a man able to survive in this new age and trains Martin to do so,  to fulfill a promise to get Martin to safety. Along their way they meet others trying to get to the safe haven in the north called Eden. But their travels between the safe havens are plagued by The Brotherhood who had a hand bringing the world to the state it is in. The Brotherhood see themselves as superior and given the right to commit horrendous atrocities against people for race, faith, or not submitting to them by God. Hunted, not everyone survives the perilous journey to Eden. It’s a story of the struggle to remain alive and sane with this small band of people who forge themselves into a family.

That’s the good news about Stakeland. The bad news is that it’s not just a dystopian horror film. It’s also a zombie apocalypse film filled with vampires instead of zombies. The end of the world, not just western society, happened because of these creatures.  The safe havens are all about being protected from the vampires, not just the people who want to attack others for various reasons. What’s learned about the vampires when viewed as a whole makes little sense because with a little logic it makes their threat levels confounding and makes it hard to suspend disbelief.
Because the main focus of the movie is the vampire element I have to give the movie one star, but  If I were to rate it solely on the horror and drama from the human elements I’d give it a solid three stars.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's a Dog's Life; How Man's Best Friend Sees, Hears, and Smells the World

It's a Dog's Life: How Man's Best Friend Sees, Hears, and Smells the World

By: Susan E. Goodman
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Denise

Summary: This book is filled with dog facts that both children and parents will learn for the first time from a dog’s point-of-view. Author Susan E. Goodman explains the history of dogs and their behavior in a fun, kid-friendly way. You’ll find out such facts as what a dog’s body language means and how to tell what your dog is trying to tell you with his different sounding barks.  

Review: This excellent children’s book is filled with entertaining facts that will keep your child reading and will have you happily reading along too. Funny illustrations fill each page and add something special to this book. This is a helpful children’s non-fiction book about dogs that explains why dogs are the way they are in an interesting and easy way for kids.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace

Author: John Knowles
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Lydia

A Separate Peace is a quiet classic; it is a spooky story that explores the darkness of youth between two best friends in the year of 1942. Set against the backdrop of World War Two, the story makes connections between the often tumultuous transition between childhood and adulthood, innocence and maturity.

The book chronicles the friendship of two teenagers at an elite boarding school in New Hampshire: introspective Gene who plays by the rules and conforms to society’s standards, and Phineas, known as Finny, who is a carefree and adventurous daredevil. From the beginning of the novel it is apparent that Finny has a sort of hold over Gene; he tries to exert his influence and make Gene a more fun and outgoing person who skips class and jumps out of trees. Even though they are best friends, Gene begins to resent Finny, who is popular, magnetic, and excels at everything he does.

In a crucial moment, everything changes. While taking part in a boyhood game Gene acts upon his impulsive jealousy and deliberately wounds Finny. The rest of the novel explores the relationship between the two boys, Gene’s guilt, anxiety, and fear, and the war as a backdrop asserting its influence over the story.

This book, the only bestseller by author John Knowles, is stunning in its unflinching look at the relationship—both the good and the bad—between two best friends. The narrative is easy to follow, and Knowles’ description of Devon School and its lush surroundings is superb. The novel is a quick read, but the message, the characters, and the raw act of violence will remain with you for a long time after the final page.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lonesome Dreams

Lonesome Dreams

Artist: Lord Huron
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Lydia

If I could, I would rate this cd 100 out of five stars; it is just that good. This five-piece indie band from Los Angeles, California, has created a near-perfect listening experience with their spectacular album Lonesome Dreams.

The cd begins on a haunting and ethereal note with “Ends of the Earth”, which is a quiet stunner. The cd picks up the tempo and progresses into one of my favorite tracks of the record, “Time to Run”, and then the title track. “Ghost on the Shore,” which follows next, brings to mind tumultuous seas, lighthouses in the fog, and stormy skies. It is a quieter, more somber tune, but it still retains the listener’s interest.

She Lit a Fire” is possibly the catchiest song on the entire album, and a sure hit that could be played on the radio with its contagious chorus of “she lit a fire/and now she’s in my every thought.” I oftentimes found myself humming this little gem. The cd became sparser after this song, ending on three slow tracks. The final song, “In the Wind”, is absolutely beautiful with aching vocals and simple background music.

Lord Huron is a relatively new band, but they have already created a masterpiece. This cd would be a perfect listening experience for fans of Fleet Foxes, Sea Wolf, and Bon Iver.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Art of Knitting 4 Kids

The Art of Knitting 4 Kids

By: TriCoast Studios
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Helen

Summary: This DVD is a great way for anyone to learn how to knit. Not only can you watch the instructional video, it explains all the steps and techniques in simple language; this DVD is not only a great teaching tool, but it is entertaining.
Review: This DVD teaches knitting using three different methods so everyone should be able to relate. Kids can knit along with 6-year-old Ryan Anderson (an absolutely charming, bright and lovable 6-year-old). He teaches the basics of knitting to kids using language they will understand. Kids can also learn through an animated story featuring "Jane and Jeremy," to teach the fundamentals of knitting, as well a making your own knitting needles. Kids can learn through knitting along with a team of animated characters; as a bonus the DVD includes a visit to an Alpaca Ranch to learn how yarn is made. This is a great DVD, educational, entertaining and best of all it is easy to understand and folllow the tips and techniques for beginners of all ages.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013



By: Stephen Lawhead
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Liz

Robin Hood: The Legend Begins Anew

For centuries, the legend of Robin Hood and his band of thieves has captivated the imagination. Now the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting.

Hunted like an animal by Norman invaders, Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne of Elfael, has abandoned his father's kingdom and fled to the greenwood. There, in a primeval forest of the Welsh borders, danger surrounds him--for this woodland is a living, breathing entity with mysterious powers and secrets, and Bran must find a way to make it his own if he is to survive.

Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Stephen R. Lawhead conjures up an ancient past and holds a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare yourself for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood.


What a spectacular twist on the Robin Hood mythos! Just changing the setting allows for a great deal of historical detail to be put in, all while giving little nods to the original story, such as the title “Rhi-Bran a Hud.” It is a wonderful medieval story of honor lost and the fight to reclaim it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Souless: The Manga Vol. 2

Soulless: The Manga Volume 2: Adaptation of Changeless

Author: Gail Carriger, Art by REM
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Todd

Summary: Settling into her new life as the Lady Woolsey, Alexia finds her days quite challenging. Whether it is a regiment of supernatural soldiers camped out on her front lawn or the demands of being the Queen’s “muhjah,” there never seems to be a want of new hurdles to overcome. But when stories of supernaturals rendered normal by some unknown force begin cropping up, Alexia has a rather serious mystery on her hands. Can she root out the cause of this phenomenon, which smacks of some larger plot at work?

Review: When I saw this continuation of the series I knew I had to take a look at it. And not for a moment was I disappointed. The story and world are still enthralling and while I’m certain that the original novel will have more tidbits about the world and characters this is an excellent sequel for those that just want a quick read to know the meat of the story.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Words in the Dust

Words in the Dust

Author: Trent Reedy
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Sue

Summary: This book is set in Afghanistan, and even though the Taliban is no longer in power, their influence is still very much a part of life.  Zulaikha, the 13-year-old daughter of a traditional father, and his second wife (Zulaikha’s mother was killed by the Taliban for having books) has a cleft palate, which makes her less desirable for a match in marriage.  Living with the deformity has brought a lot of bullying, cruelty, and name calling to Zulaikha’s life.  After a chance meeting with Meena, a former professor, who is going to teach her to read, the American soldiers come into town and offer Zulaikha a chance to fix her cleft palate.  This book introduces many aspects of life in Afghanistan, the economy, daily rituals, and traditions in a compelling story about a young girl. 

Review: In the Author’s Note it tells that the story of Zulasikha was based on a real Afghani girl that the author met while he was stationed in Afghanistan.  It is a heart wrenching story of a young girl, with a facial deformity, living in a society that places a lot of importance on marriage prospects.  This wonderful, yet painful story shows the impact of changing the life of one girl, and how that can affect so many others.  It is a powerful book that stays with you. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Storm Front

Storm Front

Author: Jim Butcher
4/5 stars
Reviewer: Marina

The only ad you’ll find in Chicago’s yellow pages that you’ll find when you look up “wizard” is as follows:


Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations.

Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.

No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment”

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is a professional wizard. The only one that he knows of. Most of Harry’s jobs are basically private investigation with the aid of his magic. Harry makes most of his income through being a paid consultant for the Chicago P.D. Special Investigations Unit- the division of the force that gets tasked with all the bizarre, unexplainable, and frequently supernatural cases that arise in the city. In this story he gets called by Karrin Murphy to investigate the grizzly death of two people found with their hearts exploded out of their chests in a hotel room. There can be only one explanation—black magic. And serious black magic to boot. Pick up this read and join the wise cracking Harry on his investigation and battle against a black mage.

Storm Front is the first book in a series I encourage you to keep reading in even if you aren’t thrilled by the first book or two. Book three is where Butcher really hits his stride and if you’re anything like me you’ll be picking up one after the other not wanting to stop.