Book Review: Andre the Giant – Life and Legend

andre the giant life and legendTitle: Andre the Giant: Life and Legend
Author: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second
Paperback: 240 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Andre Roussimoff is known as both the lovable giant in The Princess Bride and a heroic pro-wrestling figure. He was a normal guy who’d been dealt an extraordinary hand in life. At his peak, he weighed 500 pounds and stood nearly seven and a half feet tall. But the huge stature that made his fame also signed his death warrant.

Box Brown brings his great talents as a cartoonist and biographer to this phenomenal new graphic novel. Drawing from historical records about Andre’s life as well as a wealth of anecdotes from his colleagues in the wrestling world, including Hulk Hogan, and his film co-stars (Billy Crystal, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, etc), Brown has created in Andre the Giant, the first substantive biography of one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable figures.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Alyssa:

I was interested in this book for two reasons. The first is that Andrew loves Andre the Giant, and I wanted to see if he’d like this book as well. The second is that I was intrigued about using a comic format for a biography, so I wanted to see how it would work.

Overall, I think that it’s a success. This isn’t an incredibly detailed account of Andre the Giant’s life, but it covers the main information and gives enough facts and tidbits to make it an interesting read. Also, with the comic format, the story moves very quickly — I think I finished this in a few hours. The illustration style lends itself well to how the author portrays Andre’s life — very simple and straightforward. I learned a few things I didn’t know about Andre and I truly enjoyed getting to know about his life as a wrestler, since the only thing I actually had any previous information on was his work on The Princess Bride.

Andrew:

I love Andre the Giant. My love for him started through my favorite movie, The Princess Bride. Because of that, I already knew many of the stories about him from that era. (If you’re interested in that, As You Wish by Cary Elwes is a wonderful source for that.) In the past, I’ve also had a passing interest in wrestling history, particularly in the era before I was born, when many people really didn’t know that the stories in wrestling were fake.

After hearing Alyssa’s recommendation, I was interested to see Andre’s story told in this format. I think it’s really fitting, since he’s seen as a superhero-esque character in the wrestling world. I really enjoyed the novel overall. The narrative could have been more cohesive, and I had heard a lot of the stories before, but I think that it lends itself quite well to the format and it was really cool to see the stories told this way.

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Alton Brown Adventures: Instant Hot Cocoa

This was very much a spontaneous undertaking late one night when we both wanted hot chocolate. I was browsing Twitter when I saw Alton’s tweet about his homemade hot cocoa mix recipe. I looked at Andrew, told him about it, and then we both paused for a second, just looking at each other. “What does it call for?” he asked. I listed the ingredients and, luckily, we had everything and went for it.

We were scared to see how much the recipe made at first — how in the world were we going to finish that much hot cocoa mix? We don’t even drink hot cocoa all that much. “Well, at least it’ll keep for a year,” Andrew said as we put away the canister.

The recipe makes delicious hot chocolate. As long as you get your proportion of mix and water right, it’s truly the best instant hot cocoa I’ve ever had. We usually add a little bit more mix than is called for in the recipe, and we added more than a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s really up to you to play around with it and see what’s right for your tastebuds. All we can say is that it’s only been a couple of months since we made it, and our stash of mix is almost completely empty.

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We added mini marshmallows to our treat the second time we drank it! 🙂

Want to try it yourself? Here’s Alton Brown’s recipe for it!

“Waiting on Wednesday: Quiet Power – The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susain Cain “

New WoW

“Waiting on Wednesday” is an event that spotlights unpublished books we’re waiting for. It’s hosted by Breaking the Spine

Quiet PowerTitle: Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts
Authors: Susan Cain, Gregory Mone, Erica Moroz
Illustrator: Grant Snider
Publisher: Dial Books
Hardcover: 288 pages
Expected Publication Date: 3 May 2016
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Susan Cain sparked a worldwide conversation when she published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. With her inspiring book, she permanently changed the way we see introverts and the way introverts see themselves.

The original book focused on the workplace, and Susan realized that a version for and about kids was also badly needed. This book is all about kids’ world—school, extracurriculars, family life, and friendship. You’ll read about actual kids who have tackled the challenges of not being extroverted and who have made a mark in their own quiet way. You’ll hear Susan Cain’s own story, and you’ll be able to make use of the tips at the end of each chapter. There’s even a guide at the end of the book for parents and teachers.

This insightful, accessible, and empowering book, illustrated with amusing comic-style art, will be eye-opening to extroverts and introverts alike.

I have yet to read Susan Cain’s original book, but I love the idea of making this information and insight available at a more readable level for young people. I think that a lot of kids and teens can benefit from learning about the difference between being an introvert and extrovert and the strengths that each personality trait can give you. I’m excited to see how this book can be worked into a classroom or lesson, with Andrew’s classroom or with others. I think just having it available to students in general is a good idea.

Book Review: Trigger Warning – Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

Trigger-WarningTitle: Trigger Warning – Short Fictions and Disturbances
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Hardcover: 310 pages
Source: Purchased
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

This was bought for me by my wonderful fiancé when I accidentally left my Kindle charging on the floor of our apartment instead of taking it with me on my flight to California for Thanksgiving. This was actually the perfect book to have with me on vacation, since I could sit down just for a little bit in between festivities, completely finish a story and have some satisfaction from reading, and then continue with celebrating.

Overall, I tend to be wary of getting collections of short stories. For me, they’re too often hit-and-miss to be worthwhile, but this is a Gaiman book, so I decided to give it a try. (Also, Andrew loves short stories, so this would have been a worth-it purchase anyway.) I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed about 85% of the stories, mostly enjoyed 10% and the other 5% was a varying mix of meh or not-my-thing. For me, that makes this collection absolutely worth a purchase and most definitely worth the time spent reading it.

Unfortunately, these are also hard to review, because there’s no way I’m going to go into detail about every single story. I will say that this title holds true. Every single story had some element to it that creeped me out or hit a nerve at least once — many did so more than once.

I was especially happy to see a Doctor Who and a Sherlock Holmes story thrown in here. The Sherlock Holmes story was definitely one of my favorites in this collection. “Adventure Story” was by far my favorite of this book, so I recommend taking a look at that one as well. I’m waiting for Andrew to get some free time to read it so that I can relive the experience of the stories by talking about it with him, but for now, I’ll have to settle for talking about through this and others’ reviews. ;P