Jayne’s Total Mashup Book List
200,000 Snakes On the Hunt in Manitoba: or, How I Found a New Beginning at the Bottom of a Giant Pit of Snakes by Pat Spain
Pat Spain was living the life he had always dreamed of. He had just finished filming his first National Geographic TV series Beast Hunter, put in an offer on his first house with his girlfriend, was in the best physical shape he’d ever been in, had paid off the massive debt he’d incurred filming a web-based wildlife series and was getting to hang out with his TV and punk-rock idols like Harry Marshall, Henry Rollins and Brady Barr when he started getting stomach pains.
A diagnosis of stage-3 colon cancer brought Pat’s world crashing down around him in an instant. He went from planning a press tour and an appearance on The Tonight Show to learning how to change an ostomy bag, re-learning how to walk, and finding out if he liked pot brownies. On the Hunt in Manitoba is the darkly comedic story of how Pat became a wildlife TV host, lost his dream job, almost lost his life and came back from the depths the only way he knew how – covered in 200,000 snakes.
The first Pat Spain book I read was very different from this one. “A Living Dinosaur” was focused on the filming of the first episode in his Nat Geo TV series “Beast Hunter” along with a bit about his background and how he’d worked his ass off to get there plus a lot about his love of biology and animals.
“200,000 Snakes” is mainly about Pat’s diagnosis of cancer and the pit of hell it sent him and his family through. Readers, if you are squeamish about body fluids and health care procedures or are triggered by discussions of cancer, this is not the book for you. Pat lays it on the line about how he finally got his diagnosis (now when have you heard about a patient having to talk a doctor into giving him a colonoscopy?), surgeries, near death, and chemo.
Then once he’d gotten somewhat back to being able to do what he loves, he and two friends (who are described in far more detail than was needed) drive almost non-stop from Boston to Manitoba, Canada (including a fraught border crossing due to Pat’s nervousness) in order to see and tape one of Pat’s do-it-yourself nature shows about the titular “giant pit of snakes.”
I’ve got to salute Pat for his honesty and willingness to discuss in raw detail what he went through and how he then turned this into an opportunity to talk to other cancer patients and survivors. The man seems to live to educate (including a bunch of Canadian school children who just happened to be visiting the Narcisse Snake Pits when he was there). I’m looking forward to reading more of his books. B
Pucky, Prince of Bacon: A Breaking Cat News Adventure by Georgia Dunn
This just in! The adorable feline reporters at Breaking Cat News are back with an all-new fifth comic collection for middle grade readers!
The cats of BCN are back and have they got news for you! When Elvis goes missing it’s Tommy to the rescue—but just who is rescuing whom? Stayed tuned for relaxing light baths, an intruder on the couch, adventures in laundry, Operation: Second Breakfast, an invisible cat, a new wrestler entering the ring, baby pictures of Elvis, dangerous spiders, packing peanuts galore and more! …And what about that rumored battle with the vacuum cleaner?
Don’t forget to check out the “More to Explore” section, with pictures you can color!
Georgia Dunn is back with the latest adventures of the “Breaking Cat News” felines here to bring you all the news – from their point of view – that goes on in the Big Pink House. Want to see Lupin trash talk a vacuum while going “invisible?” See Pucky’s diagram showing the science behind rainbow swarms in the kitchen – Pretty Rock Intensifying Sky Magic. Marvel at how packing peanuts “increase their volume to fill whatever space they occupy.” I can attest to the truth of that last one, myself. Watch the Woman crumble in the face of thoughtful people-kittens selling boxes of cookies. And as Puck knows “No one can resist bacon’s savory siren song.” Plus there are coloring pages! Middle grade readers? Yes, but adults (ahem) like it too. A
Two Acres of Time by Richard S. Laub
In 1959, what appeared to be the bones of a mastodon were found in a western New York pasture. When researchers began to investigate further in the early 1980s, the site proved to hold far more. Known as the Hiscock Site or the “Byron Dig,” it contained an astonishingly rich trove of fossils and artifacts dating from the late Ice Age through the onset of European settlement. For nearly three decades, work at the site unearthed new evidence of changing fauna, flora, cultures, and environments over the past 13,000 years.
In Two Acres of Time, Richard S. Laub—the principal investigator of the project—tells the story of the Byron Dig. Recounting twenty-nine years of intensive excavation involving more than a thousand participants, he provides a comprehensive account of a working paleontological and archaeological field project and its contributions to our knowledge of the past. Laub explores how understanding of the site evolved through the years, the surprises that came to light along the way, and how contributions from numerous researchers helped achieve a fuller picture of the significance of the findings. The book also shows how people from all walks of life—not only scientists but also volunteers and local small-town residents—worked together to unearth and interpret the site’s contents and to preserve them for future generations. This extensively illustrated book connects life at a scientific excavation project to the grand sweep of long-ago epochs.
Richard S. Laub served as curator of geology at the Buffalo Museum of Science from 1973 to 2011. He initiated and directed the Hiscock Site project from 1983 to 2011.
I’ve read several books on paleontology but when I saw that this one would cover an Ice Age dig, I was intrigued and interested in reading it. Sadly it’s going into the category of “I wish I liked it more than I did.” Laub is clearly enthusiastic not only about the dig itself but also about describing (in excessive detail) the nuts and bolts of what goes into one of these excavations and the varied people who took part in the Byron Dig. Such detail is of far more interest to those who were there than the average “I just want to learn about mastodons” reader.
But the more I read, the more it appeared that, at times, setting up the dig was a “learn as you go” experience. I mean, I expect that something like this and the things found will add to our knowledge about this time period but the impression I got is that Laub and his volunteers just winged how the excavation was done.
Then there were subjects about which there was almost too much minutiae tossed in too early – elephant teeth vs mastodon teeth. While other things were mentioned casually with little explanation – what is the cobble layer, how did it form and why are there no fossils underneath it.
I applaud all who spent almost thirty years in discovering the past at the Byron Dig but there comes a point when a reader knows it’s time to throw in the towel and I have reached that point with “Two Acres of Time.” DNF
Love Made Me More by Colleen Rowan Kosinski, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
An unexpectedly heartfelt tale of a friendship between a boy and an origami crane that continues throughout the boy’s life.
When a boy’s grandmother shows him how to fold an origami crane, the boy and crane become instant friends. They sail around the room and play, but the crane also watches over the boy and comforts him in a time of loss. The crane is always on the boy’s nightstand—it’s the last thing he sees each night and the first thing he sees each morning.
Over time, the boy grows older, and the crane becomes dusty. But even when the boy becomes a young man, the crane plays a part in the most important moments of his life. And one day, just like his grandmother before him, the man shows his own son how to fold origami as the crane looks on.
Beautifully written and illustrated, this story of an unlikely friendship that spans generations reminds us how much one moment with a loved one can affect our lives in the most meaningful way.
Okay I know I’m not the only one who was once given something that became a beloved part of my childhood. For me it was (and still is as I still have her) a stuffed pink poodle. For the boy in this story, it’s an origami crane his grandmother shows him how to fold. I wasn’t expecting the POV nor the teensy bit of jealousy but best friends can get upset if they feel they’re being left behind. But is that what’s happening? The outcome here is lovely and, as the blurb says, “heartfelt.” The illustrations have a touch of whimsy and I think children will have fun finding the crane on each page and enjoy the story of enduring love. B+
Undercover (Into Shadow collection) by Tamsyn Muir
When a stranger comes to town, secrets are sure to come out. New York Times bestselling author Tamsyn Muir spins a twisty—and twisted—short story of revenge and survival.
A fresh-faced newcomer arrives in an isolated, gang-run town and soon finds herself taking a job nobody else wants: bodyguard to a ghoul. Not just your average mindless, half-rotted shuffler, though. Lucille is a dancer who can still put on her own lipstick and whose shows are half burlesque, half gladiator match. But the stranger is no stranger to this particular ghoul. Both women are undercover in their own way. And both have something to lose if their connection comes to light.
I’ve been looking to read another Tamsyn Muir book after enjoying “Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower.” “Undercover” is part of a horror novella series and at less than 75 pages I thought “Yeah, why not?”
From my notes – “Woman becomes a “keeper” for a gangster’s ghoul. Bloody and gruesome.” It’s also an intriguing world into which the reader is dropped as if from a cannon shot. That was actually part of the fun, to figure out what the hell was going to happen next. Readers need to be ready for blood, body parts, rotting, and revenge. B