Science Fiction

Book Review – Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

 

Tickle Monster by Josie Bissette

Edited and virtually rewritten after I read what I’d posted at 11 last night. I should sleep on posts I write that late.

My son is not very ticklish, but he loves to be tickled. When our searching fingers find just the right spot his eyes light up and he rewards us with a big belly laugh and little snorting giggles. If it even looks like you are about to play tickle monster with him, your arm held high and your hand in the shape of a claw, he gives a big, squinty-eyed, toothy grin. As you can imagine, a book with the very title “Tickle Monster” was a very welcome sight to a couple of tired, bedraggled, and loving parents.

Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett

We found our copy at the local Goodwill outlet after the family in front of us in line abandoned it at the register. My husband swore he had seen it somewhere before. Likely at one of our many outings to Powell’s. I was surprised after inspecting the cover and pages that it was in such amazing condition. Sadly, most children’s books in the Bins (a friendly neighborhood name for Goodwill Outlets) are chewed up, stained, and torn. My husband, a big kid himself in many ways, wanted it. I was not going to argue.

“Tickle Monster” is an endearing children’s science fiction picture book with whimsical art by Kevan J. Atteberry and zany typography. Tickle Monster from the planet Tickle could not be any cuter with his big eyes and colorful striped tail and horns. His only mission in life is to bring the precious sound of children’s laughter to the universe.

Tickle Monster Inside Peak

This is not a book you can simply read to your child. To get the full effect, you must tickle as well. If you are unpracticed in the art of tickling (gasp), don’t worry! Tickle Monster will guide your fingers. Though the story has some rhyming quirks that break the sing song quality of the prose, the rhyme scheme, however flawed, is not the point of the story. The glory of this picture book is that it sets the perfect stage for quality bonding time. It encourages parents, older siblings, and other loving adults to participate in interactive and imaginative play with the backdrop of a fun science fiction setting.

If the little one in your life runs screaming and bursts into tears at the thought of being tickled, you might want to leave this one on the shelf. It would not be my first choice as a book to teach reading since the author makes up many words to bolster the silliness of the story. I would not choose it for teaching rhymes either, unless I want to compare instances where the rhyming works against instances where it does not. If you are a lower grades teacher, it could be a fun and playful way to work on body parts like tummy, neck, feet, and toes. The interactive elements would just need to be modified to remove physical contact. “Tickle Monster”, at its core, is best suited for parents and other caretakers with their little charges as a way to play together and bond. Word on the street has it that you can buy Tickle Monster gloves to enhance your story time, too. How fun!
Tickle Monster Inside Peak 2

I Would Not Thrive in a Post Apocalyptic Society

 

You may have noticed that posting has been sparse these last few days. That is because I have been enduring the pain of an infected and decaying wisdom tooth. I will not say it is a pain worse than child birth, because that is a feeling like none other and thoroughly indescribable to those who have not experienced it. I will say that I lasted far longer without medication during active labor than I have with this tooth. The sharp, radiating pain that has taken over the entire left side of my face has left me exhausted, irritable, and generally unwilling to participate in life unless heavily medicated with ibuprofen during the day and a nightcap of Vicodin before bed. It has also taught me that I am not a good candidate for a post apocalyptic heroine.

I’m sure I am not the only one who has imagined what it would be like to live in the worlds of our favorite stories. Prior to this event, I imagined I would do all right. I wouldn’t be the hero of the story, but I would survive. After all, I am a hard worker and I don’t often let a bit of pain or a lingering illness knock me down. However, while on the train home from work yesterday, while I sat through waves of pain that made me feel as if someone was drilling into my jaw bone, my brain took me to a very strange place where I began to list the reasons why I would not do well.

Reasons I Would Not Survive in a Post Apocalyptic Society

  • Pain from a decaying tooth is debilitating to me, and there would be little to no dental care. On top of that, if I can’t handle the tooth pain, it does not bode well for broken bones and other such mishaps.
  • I become both hangry and depressed if I go without food for much longer than four hours.
  • I doubt I could shoot even a zombie to kill it, and on top of that, I would need to learn how to use a gun.
  • Speaking of zombies… <shudder>
  • An intense fear of snakes and spiders makes living in the wilderness a difficult prospect.
  • I catch every cold that goes around, so you can say goodbye to me during the plague that brings on the apocalypse.

How do you think you would fare? What would do you in? If you need some material to help jog your brain, here are some post apocalyptic novels that I love:

Six Post Apocalyptic Novels I Love

  • Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
  • The Passage by Justin Cronin
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Let me know in the comments what your favorites are!

#TBT Book Memories: Galax-Arena

Every Thursday my Facebook feed is filled with grainy old photos from way, way, back. Some show smiling toddler version of my friends. Some show the high school faces I remember fondly. It’s always nice to reminisce about our pasts on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter help us keep up with our friend’s presents, but on Thursdays, they also offer us a walk down memory lane. For book geeks, our trips to the Shire, to Hogwarts, and beyond through little black letter printed on paper and sandwiched between cardboard are as much a part of our past as vacations to Disneyland and birthday parties in the park. So, every Thursday on All Night Reading I want to share a book that had an impact on me, or a memory surrounding literature and reading.

Today I have chosen Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein. Galax-Arena was the first book I can remember reading that had cursing in it. I know that is a strange thing to remember about a book, but as a goody-two-shoes in middle school, I was slightly scandalized. I wondered if the librarian knew such a book was on the shelf for tender 11-year-olds like myself to pick up. I vowed I would not tell and continued reading.

What I read was an interesting glimpse into science fiction and a dystopian world where young children were kidnapped and forced to perform acrobatics for a mysterious group of aliens. They were treated like circus pets, forced to perform, and sometimes given affection, but never treated as fully thinking and individual human beings. A twist at the end showed me that not everything in the world was as it seemed. It left me wanting more (and I just found out there was a sequel!) When I look back, Galax-Arena was likely the book that spurned a lifelong love affair with dystopian science fiction, anime and manga, and more.

I read it so long ago that the small details are a bit fuzzy, so I plan on picking it up again after I get through the ARCs on my shelf. I wonder how much more I will understand now that I am a bit older, and now that I know the secret at the end? Has anyone else read Galax-Arena? What did you think?

galax_arena_cover

The Belial Stone by R.D. Brady

3 stars out of 5

There is something comforting in a formula, especially when you have a lot going on and just want to decompress with a book rather than analyze every word. I often call it fluff reading, something I have done a lot of since my son was born ten months ago. “The Belial Stone” is not remarkable in the sub genre of archaeological thrillers. You won’t find anything revolutionary here, it sits firmly in the shadow of stories like “The DaVinci Code”, “The Relic”, and “Last Templar”. That being said, I did enjoy it quite a bit as a diversion.

The characters are not really complex. R.D. Brady attempted to add some complexity and mystery, but ultimately missed. The bad guys are selfish, evil, and bad in every way. The good guys are good without fail. Jake is willing to drop everything and believe almost anything to find his brother. Laney will get justice for her friend, even if it kills her. Those on the side of the light have no qualms about risking everything to save each other as well as strangers. The cast of characters is fairly dynamic and includes a warrior priest who specializes in religious archaeology, a hyper-intelligent teenage boy, and a lovable, mysterious giant who knows more about what is going on than he is telling (If you pay attention to the not subtle foreshadowing, you will likely guess why, even if it is not resolved by the end of the book). A few other characters show up to entertain, but I don’t want to spoil those who don’t wish to be spoiled.

I found the characters enjoyable through most of the story. Some of them have their moments. Jake is a bit more macho than I like prefer male leads. He has a protective streak that he cannot help but focus on Laney, the resident damsel in distress. He is not alone. All of the male characters, save for the baddies, feel a strong need to protect her. Jake actually comes to the realization that she needs protecting shortly after they meet, despite the obvious fact that she could hold her own in a fight with some mad martial arts skills. The inevitable and predictable romance springs up too quickly and feels a bit forced.

R.D. Brady plays with and mixes together two different mythologies. The story of Atlantis, and Christian myths. She does it beautifully and presents enough theoretical evidence to make it seem plausible.  My only nitpick is that all of the characters talk about, or accept, fringe archaeological theories as if they were well known facts. I love reading “Ancient Aliens” style theories, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a “Some people believe…” every once in a while. I found myself thinking “I’ve never heard of that,” a few times when sites I had read or watched documentaries came up. Being the curious sort, I left the story for a bit to look it up. Still, I was ultimately a fan of the archaeological bread crumbs strewn throughout the story.

The eBook is only 4.99 on Amazon and is a Kindle Unlimited story, so it also makes it into my list of decent bargain books. If you want a fun beach or airport read, or something to chill on the couch with, this is definitely a book to consider. If you are looking for something unpredictable that makes you think about each clue, look elsewhere.

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