Book Reviews: Butcher’s Dozen of Kid Stuff

Yes, I just invented “butcher’s dozen” to mean eleven. Somebody had to. . .

Stinky Cecil in Mudslide Mayhem!
A new resident to the pond, a chameleon, is fresh from a pet store and doesn’t know anything, which Cecil finds annoying. More importantly, Cecil’s house gets flooded even though it’s no longer raining. You might be able to guess the reason before you see it.
Gophers being so industrious, it’s no surprise that particular animal has a boat. And a headlamp. And a fanny pack.
Cecil pretends to be smart, but he’d be a goner ten times over without his earthworm friend.
Hmmm, maybe Bigfoot is a giant beaver (not as random as it sounds).
A long sticky tongue IS easier than a fork, especially when you have no fingers.
So anyway, this is a story about cooperation and empathy, or lack of it. Cute and educational, with extra learning at the end.
4/5

Bubby’s Puddle Pond: A Tortuga’s Tale of the Desert
Bubby’s a turtle newly brought to a home in the desert, which despite the landscape has a pond. He makes easy friends with other animals, though I thought this story would be over before it started because the hose looked a lot like a snake!
In the space of a few pages three years take place, which is tough to understand. Other than that, it’s simple enough for little kids.
Last few pages are educational: facts on desert tortoises, including adoption rules, so on.
3.5/5

Caillou: Happy Holidays!
The adorable little scamp with seemingly hundreds of books/stories under his belt—without ever growing older—now takes on Christmas, with a special calendar that shows traditions from around the world.
Cheese pancakes in Austria? Never heard of them, but now I’m hungry.
His little sister takes regifting to a whole new level!
As always, these simple stories will be enjoyable for kids.
3.5/5

Caillou Plays Hockey
As always, I love it when a title tells you everything you need to know.
Though he looks tiny in comparison, Caillou is not afraid to play against bigger kids, who in a reversal of the trope are not mean to him. Of course it helps if he learns how to play first, so he practices with his dad and best friend, imagining scoring the game winner in some big competition, something all athletic competitive kids do, although he seems a bit young for it.
And that’s where it ends. No real finish to it.
3/5

Where is Bear Going?
A small bear goes on a quest and is joined by friends along the way, each stop adding another body part to what they’re going to see. Perhaps the point is for the child reading this to guess, but I couldn’t. Still, it’s cute enough for kids to enjoy.
3/5

Johnny
Johnny’s the nicest being ever, but because he’s a big hairy spider everyone’s afraid of him (wow, the author KNOWS me!).
No real ending to the story, unless you count eating a whole cake by yourself. There’s a lesson here for readers, but the other characters in the story don’t get the chance to learn it.
3/5

Caillou Loves his Mommy
Despite all his toys, the little boy insists on his mom putting down her newspaper to play with him. But it’s during hide-n-seek that their relationship really shines.
The kid is as cute as always, but there’s less of a story here than usual. It’s really just a series of things he wants his mom to do with him. No lesson, either.
3/5

Caillou Loves his Daddy
In this edition, Caillou wants to be just like Daddy, making it different than Mommy’s story.
The first page has the cute little kid asking a question that sounds a lot like the birds and bees, but luckily Dad was smarter than that. After a glimpse through the photo album he wants to dress like Dad, work like Dad, and so on. Then Grampa shows up and makes things more interesting.
This was a lot more interesting than the Mommy volume, but still not as good as those with actual stories.
3.5/5

Caillou at the Sugar Shack
After the last couple of pedestrian entries in the series, this volume actually has a story, where the cute little kid goes to see how maple is harvested from trees. Once warm inside, they get to make yummy stuff out of their crop. This kid, and to a lesser extent his little sister, bring the cute to such levels that it’s almost sweeter than the syrup.
This, along with the hockey book, do the most to prove this series is set in Canada.
4/5

Discover Baby Animals
Pictures of baby animals highlight one fact about what they like to do. Some are more obvious than others. There are three different types of monkeys included. Guinea pigs are an interesting insertion.
The photos are so cute you hardly pay attention to the text, pandas and hedgehogs in particular. Rats not so much. Should get some really small kids interested.
4/5

Professor McNasty’s Collection of Slimes
Rhyming couplets tell the story of young siblings who want to buy some slime. They even take odd jobs from the lady next door to raise the money, the text proving how serious they are by including, “There’s no time for fun.” Unfortunately, like most things bought on the internet, some assembly is required. Even more importantly: read the friggin’ instructions!
Some people will appreciate the rhymes, others won’t. For me it made the story cuter, which is necessary when you’re battling slime, even in a comic context. The illustrations made it even more fun. I did find it annoying that Mom was most worried about her dress.
4/5

;o)

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Poetry Tuesday: Two By Shikibu

Not Lady Murasaki, who wrote The Tale of Genji, but rather Lady Izumi; apparently the fact they had the same last name meant nothing in 10th-11th century Japan.
The first one tells exactly why so many people have trouble with meditation. The second is left to interpretation.

Autumn, on Retreat at a Mountain Temple
Although I try
to hold the single thought
of Buddha’s teaching in my heart,
I cannot help but hear
The many crickets’ voices calling as well.

Although the Wind
Although the wind
blows terribly here
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of the ruined home.

;o)

A Different Violinist

Flashback Friday to a phot I took of a violinist not named Lindsey Stirling or Hilary Hahn or Rachel Barton Pine. . . mostly because I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot them.

This is Lili Haydn, at the pavilion in McArthur Park, just west of downtown Los Angeles. I remember it was on my birthday, but I don’t remember the year. I just love her interplay with Romeo the drummer.

;o)

Poetry Tuesday: Next Morning

Someone who probably didn’t want to remain anonymous wrote this in seventh-century India.

Next morning
When a damnfool parrot–
right before her parents–
starts to mimic
last night’s cries of love,
the girl leaps up,
blushing,
clasps her hands to
start the children dancing–
jangle of her bracelets
drowning out
the parrot’s calls.

;o)

Book Reviews: Erotic Bartenders, Painters and Santa

Double Trouble
“This time, he won’t take no for an answer.”
This is not the way to start any book.
A bartender is tricked by her sister into putting herself into a charity auction. The sister knows damn well there’s a rich guy who wants her, so she’s basically pimping her out for donations.
The story had barely started and I already hated this mother-fucker. He’s a sadistic dom, but luckily—and conveniently—she turns out to be a closet sub. Then his brother appears. . .
The descriptions of the renovated mansion are tedious. I skipped them; not here for architecture. Other than that, this is excellently written, with plenty of genuinely funny moments, particularly in her introspection. My favorite parts were the amazing lead female character and the intriguing sex scenes. The only downside for me was the lead male character at the beginning, but even he got better. Even the sister got better, though I would have never forgiven her.
3.5/5

The Submissive Muse
One year after her dom husband died, a woman plans her suicide, only to be stopped when she discovers what might be a dead body in the barn. Then it gets complicated.
I’m conflicted about this one. As usual when it’s a good book, I liked the female protagonist, and didn’t care for either of the guys; since they were so opposite from each other, maybe someone in between would have worked for me. The story itself is well written, if a little long; felt more drawn out than necessary, with quite a bit of fluff. Took a long time to get to any erotica or bdsm; it reads more like the journal of three damaged people. The timing of her finding him in the barn just as she’s about to off herself is a little too big of a coinkidink. But even with that I enjoyed some of the psychological aspects, more so her submissiveness than his illness.
3/5

Sexting St. Nick
Cam girl falls for new customer, and of course vice versa, so much so that they take it offline. Then things really get weird.
Despite the shortness of the story there was more than enough to make the leads, as well as the elves and her best friend, likeable. Not so sure about the Frosty one, though.
Even though there’s plenty of real and virtual sex, this really is a cute romance. Her past was told small but heavy, and certainly made understanding her easier.
If only the motorcycle had been shaped like a reindeer with a red headlamp. . .
4/5

Painting Class
An art teacher in her forties finally has an exhibition of her work, where one of the female gawkers is a past student who had the hots for her. The teacher feels similarly and takes her student home for a bout of body painting and anything that might come out of it.
It’s a short tale, but considering it only consisted of two scenes—three, if you count the preview of the sequel—the length was perfect. From the hesitant flirting in the art gallery to the gentle sparring to finding out if the other is interested and what the boundaries are, this was just a fun read. The art-making is given just as much importance as the lovemaking, reminding me of an old four-hour French movie with a slightly similar design.
4/5

;o)

Travel Thursday: After Arlington Garden

After the visit to Arlington Garden that I blogged about last week I decided to go further north to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and for the first time go behind Huntington Hospital rather than the usual Fair Oaks route. I was amazed that in the span of three blocks there was so much gawking to be had.

The famous fork in the road. Read about it, seen photos. Life complete.

Considering my preferences for what is commonly known as weak tea, I’d better not go in there.

How libraries start out.

;o)

Marina V Concert Photos 171112

So it took me two and a half weeks to get through the over 500 photos of the concert, in a new and dark venue with a ton of tech difficulties. Maybe that’s why. . .

She really thinks she’s a unicorn

Too much alcohol or band out of tune

Someone forgot the lyrics

Somewhere in Liverpool in the 60s. . .

Shannon Hurley pretending to be Ben

Ben Eisen pretending to be Shannon

;o)