Articles by " Adam"
1 Jul
2014

KU Summer Reading Extravaganza 2014!

It's time again for Kards Unlimited to tell you all about what books you should spend your relaxing summer months reading!  If I do say so myself (and I do), we have excellent taste in books and we know just what you need!  This summer, we'll be recommending just a few books at a time to satisfy different literary tastes and cravings, so stay abreast (still ha) of what's going on using the Summer Reading menu on the sidebar!

First up is a list of book series to keep a reader occupied all summer!  Whether you just want your kids to chill out and read something or you're looking for some books to keep you occupied while you work on that tan or if you just want something to hold your interest while you enjoy the AC, these book series will keep you hooked!

For Kids!  (Or adults, because I think we can all agree that plenty of 'kids' books are great no matter how old you are.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - How many books?  Seven, plus several companion books.

Rowling's Harry Potter series is a contemporary classic that will not likely fall from its perennial popularity until I have great-grandchildren, if ever.  If (for some inexplicable reason) you've never read these books, or know someone who's never read them, now is the time.  If you have read them, it's getting on time to re-read, don't you think?  I thought so.

 

 

 

 

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A Wrinkle in Time

The Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle - How many books?  Four (obviously), though there is a follow up book to the series that takes place a generation after the original quartet.

This is the book series that introduced many of us to the sci-fi genre and man did we fall so hard for it.  First of all, time travel is freakin' awesome in almost every instance.  Secondly, there are characters named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who (a small Dr. Who reference, perhaps, Madeleine?) and Mrs. Which.  'Nuff said.

 

 

 

The Book of Three

The Book of Three

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd AlexanderHow many books? Five.

So I'm assuming you have not seen animated film The Black Cauldron, which is probably Disney's most famous flop.  This is a mistake by you, since it's a really fun movie and it will make you fall in love with the characters of Lloyd Alexander's series.  The movie is not a particularly good adaptation of the books (in fact, it's terrible), but it's a fun film, enjoyed by the author himself.  That being said, the books are high quality in every way and their use of Welsh mythology is fantastic.  Seriously, I didn't read these books until I was 23 and I love them.

 

 

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl

Artemis Fowl by Eoin ColferHow many books?  Eight.

Perhaps skewed slightly toward the younger crowd, the Artemis Fowl series is nevertheless a great read.  Mixing technology, magic, and classic gangster tropes has never been so much fun.  Or, you know, has never really happened except in these books.

 

 

Not for kids!  (Or, for mature kids with awesome parents who encourage them to broaden their minds!)

Carry on, Jeeves

Carry on, Jeeves

Jeeves (et al) by P.G. WodehouseHow many books?  A lot.  More than you could read in a summer, so don't worry about it.

I list Wodehouse under the 'Adult' heading not because his content isn't appropriate for children but because his sophisticated language and liberal use of early 19th century English slang make him a challenging read for the uninitiated.  Wodehouse is one of the greatest writers the English language has ever known and his humor is nearly universal.  If you can't find something you enjoy in the Wodehouse canon, I can't help you.  Also, these books aren't strictly a series, as they can be read in any order.  Come visit for more info!

 

 

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair

Thursday Next by Jasper FfordeHow many books?  Seven.

Full of literary allusions, wordplay, and crazy plot twists, Fforde's books are nonstop fun.  Thursday Next is a literary detective who gets into all sorts of hijinks in the pursuit of her duty.  In the first installment, the manuscript of Jane Eyre is stolen by a supernaturally powered villain and Thursday's quest to rescue the book is totally epic.  If you're looking for some smart, light-hearted fun, look no further.

 

 

Wicked

Wicked

The Wicked Years by Gregory MaguireHow many books?  Four, but he wrote more that aren't part of the Wiz. of Oz universe.

By now, pretty much everyone is at least vaguely familiar with the Broadway sensation that is Wicked.  The book the show is based on, though, is equally (if not more) sensational!  Maguire took everything that was quaint and whimsical about L. Frank Baum's Oz and reimagined it as something darker, more complex, and much more real.  These books toe the fine line that separates a fun summer book from a weighty, autumnal tome, if you will.  Beware, though, you'll want to read all of them if you read one.

 

 

The Black Jewels

The Black Jewels

The Black Jewels by Anne BishopHow many books?  A trilogy (we sell the omnibus edition), but again there are several companion books.

Perhaps the only series on this list that I'd really say is definitely not for kids, The Black Jewels trilogy is a must read for people who are old enough for it.  It's a little kitschy and a little...melodramatic, but if you're looking for a literary guilty pleasure, you will find it in these books.  Full of love, danger, magic, and sex (it's really not that much sex, disappointingly, but it's in there), these books are like ice cold watermelon: not necessarily that nourishing, but damn if it isn't the perfect snack on a hot day.

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28 Jun
2014

Kards Unlimited Calendar of Events: July!

It's just like this, pretty much.  Only less weirdly sexy and more disgusting.

It's just like this, pretty much. Only less weirdly sexy and more disgusting.

I'd ask if it's hot enough out there for you, but my fingers and all of the rest of me melted, so I'm assuming the answer is yes.  July is a great month because barbecues and Independence Day and movies and stuff!  We have all that and much much more are happening at KU this July!  Click READ MORE to find out what's up!

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16 Jun
2014

Happy birthday to Chris Van Allsburg!

cva

Look at those glasses. So hip.

On June 18th, KU wishes a very happy birthday to one of the most fun authors and illustrators of children's books this side of anywhere.  Chris Van Allsburg is the winner of two Caldecott Medals (for Jumanji and The Polar Express, both of which can be found here at KU) and numerous other awards for his contributions to the genre.  As we've made pretty clear about a million times, we love kids' books, so ol' CVA is a big deal for us.

badants

Plus he wrote this adorable book about a couple ants who decide to go in for themselves instead of reporting to the colony. *SPOILER ALERT* It doesn't really work out for them.

Here are some interesting facts about this great author/illustrator:

  • As a child, his paternal extended family owned a creamery in Michigan.  When he was born, his family lived in a farmhouse next to the Creamery.
  • He totally lied to an admissions officer for the University of Michigan about his art education (which at that time was negligible) so that he could get accepted into the college of Art and Design there.  It worked out, though.
  • He actually studied sculpture in undergrad and graduate settings and had his own sculpture studio before his career writing and illustrating books.
  • The bull terrier Fritz who appears in many of Van Allsburg's works is a tribute to his brother-in-law's dog whom he used as a model.
  • Van Allsburg illustrates his books in a realistic way because he thinks that fantastic and unbelievable stories need realistic illustrations to make them

(These facts and other fun stuff available at Chris Van Allsburg's website here.)

So happy birthday to a great author and illustrator!  If you feel a hankering for a Van Allsburg classic or any other book for your summer reading pleasure, come down to KU, we'll hook you up!

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11 Jun
2014

An Appreciation of Parents, Part II: Fathers

Artist's rendering of me and dad.  Not really, but kind of.  Also, this is probably the perfect gift to get your dad because I'd be willing to bet he loves Star Wars.

Artist's rendering of me and dad. Not really, but kind of. Also, this is probably the perfect gift to get your dad because I'd be willing to bet he loves Star Wars.

June 15th is Father's Day!  You may remember a month ago when I talked about how moms (and, specifically, my mom) are the greatest.  Still 100% true.  Dads are also the greatest, but usually at different stuff.  For instance:

For my entire life, my dad has never had less than two jobs at the same time.  He's not exactly a workaholic, but he's the kind of person who thinks that people should be compensated according to their efforts, so he makes every effort.  My mother has been a full-time parent pretty much since I was born.  And while she babysat and took on foster children to help support our family, my father's work was the backbone of the household.  It's not an unfamiliar story, obviously, so I'm not going to try to amaze you with my parents' (not quite) rags to (not exactly) riches fable.  It's still amazing to me, though, that a man who can probably count on one hand the times he's turned down overtime work (and pay) was never missing from my childhood.  My dad made a point of chaperoning almost every field trip (sometimes embarrassingly well), attending most every sporting event, and in all other ways being a huge part of my life, even though in retrospect it's obvious that my mom did the lion(ness)'s share of the child-rearing proper.  And I have three siblings, so it's not just me.

What I'm trying to say, in short, is that family is really important to me.  Despite the fact that I don't see them every day (even though I live two blocks away), despite the fact that most of the stories that my family tells about me as a kid involve misguidedly high levels of independence, I'm acutely aware that it was and continues to be the support of my parents and the rest of my family that makes me the person I am.  I'm not given to displays (or, really, feelings) of humility, so when I tell you that I can only hope to be the kind of parent my parents are, it's not just hot air.

Father's Day is a great time to think about how much support your father and family have given you, so don't forget to let him and them know that you appreciate it.  It's important, for real.

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31 May
2014

Kards Unlimited Calendar of Events: June!

Gay Pride

<3

Summer's finally (almost) here, everybody!  And man, is it here with a vengeance.  Dear May, I didn't need your 80 degree days, but thanks.  Love, everyone.   It's more understandable when it's 80 in June, what with summer actually starting and whatnot.  Click READ MORE to find out what other great stuff is happening down at KU this June!

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19 May
2014

Put on your Subversive Pants, it’s Get Caught Reading Month!

sneaking-into-Vector-s-place-despicable-me-13776669-616-315

Aw yeah, so sneaky!

As a general rule, it's best not to get caught doing stuff.  Getting caught implies that you're doing something you aren't supposed to do, and we all know that doing things we aren't supposed to do is best done in private.

Every once in a while, though, you have to just get caught.  On purpose.  Just to show the authorities that they don't own you.  Just to let the man know that he can never keep you down.  And that's what Get Caught Reading Month is about.  (If you're interested in the origins and general info about Get Caught Reading Month, you can find it here!)

Reading is a fundamental life skill the importance of which cannot be overstated.  I've talked about that before, so I won't beat you over the head with it.  Sometimes, though, people don't want you to read.  Whether it be because you're in math class and you need to pay attention to the Pythagorean Theorem, or because you're at work and you employer doesn't want to pay you to read when you could be performing functions, or because you're on a date and you should be regaling your partner with hilarious tales from your real life not burying your nose in literature, whatever.  The point is, May, Get Caught Reading Month, is a time to (judiciously) let those people know that the written word is important to you.  More important, perhaps, than they are.  (Cannot stress enough to get caught reading judiciously.  I would not want you to be expelled or fired or dumped in pursuit of literary freedom.  Seems like overkill in this day and age.)

photo (4)

KUBK 4 lyfe! We love reading!

Here at KU, we got caught reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer at our May Book Klub meeting!  We really liked this book for its flawed, relatable characters and its ambitious scope.  Between drinks, snacks, and cookies, we talked about what characters we most related to, who we didn't (at all) relate to, and who we wish we had seen more of.  We had a great time seeing returning members and meeting a few new faces as well.  Our next meeting is set for Sunday, June 22nd, at 6 p.m.  We're reading Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere!  Hopefully we'll get to meet a few more new members at that meeting!

As always, you can join our Book Klub list by coming in to the store and signing up or sending an email to kardsunlimited@hotmail.com!  Get caught reading Neverwhere this month and we'll hope to see you in June!

 

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13 May
2014

It’s Children’s Book Week! YAAAY!

Children's books are the bomb, you guys.  Srsly.  The Bomb.  Since it's Children's Book Week (5/12-5/19), I'm gonna give you a week's worth of awesome kids' books that I love.

zen-shorts

1.  Zen Shorts - I've mentioned Zen Shorts on the blog before, but I think it warrants a repeat because this book is fantastic.  I love Jon J Muth's illustrations because they're soft and colorful and fun and I love his writing  because he's great at being instructive but not pretentious or didactic.  Plus a book where the main character is a panda that tells zen fables is just freakin' adorable.

MrMrsGodCoverThumb

 

 

 

 

 

2. Mr. and Mrs. God in the Creation Kitchen - In addition to charmingly erratic illustrations, (that doesn't necessarily sound like a good attribute, but it so is!) this book addresses the Creation story in a simple, fun way without being offensive to either the religious or secular crowd.  It's also really funny to see the portrayal of Mr. and Mrs. God as this cute old couple who are just making the world.  It's an adorable book and a great one to read in a Scottish accent.  I hear.

i-want-my-hat-back-cover13. I Want My Hat Back - Another book that's been mentioned in the past, (by me and Brendan and probably at least a couple other people) Jon Klassen's cautionary tale about what happens when you steal from a bear is on the short list of my favorite books ever alongside such classics as Pride and PrejudiceThe Count of Monte Cristo, and The Lord of the Rings.  Klassen, to me, is like a snarky Eric Carle.  His illustrations utilize the same collage-style approach, his stories are just slightly more full of theft.  (Another great book of his is This is Not My Hat, which is similar to I Want My Hat Back in many ways.)littlepea

4. Little Pea - This may actually be the cutest book of all time.  The titular Little Pea has to eat candy for dinner and he thinks it's gross so the whole book is basically pictures of a tiny adorable pea with a face going "Blech!"  And if that doesn't convince you that you need this book, I just don't know what would.

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5. The Day the Crayons Quit - We are really enamored with Oliver Jeffers at KU.  He's a fantastic illustrator and his talents greatly enhance the masterpiece that is Drew Daywalt's story.  My favorite thing about The Day the Crayons Quit, though, is that it's told as a series of letters from the crayons to the kid who uses them.  That's right, folks.  It's an epistolary children's book!  So wicked cool!

Capsforsale

6. Caps for Sale - I had to thrown in at least one classic children's story, so I chose Caps for Sale not because it was a book I loved as a kid (though it was), but because it's one of the books my father loves to read to my niece and nephew (and, presumably he'll still love reading it to kids whenever I get around to providing him with more grandchildren.  Hopefully, anyway.) and that is incredibly cute to me.  Also the book's whole take on the 'monkey see, monkey do' adage is hysterical.

DRAGONS-LOVE-TACOS

7. Dragons Love Tacos - There's a line in this book which reads, "The only thing that dragons love more than tacos and parties is taco parties!"  And that sentence, in and of itself, is nothing less that a work of art.  Dragons.  Tacos.  Parties.  What more could a kid need?

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9 May
2014

An Appreciation of Parents, Part I: Mothers

mom

For real, though.

My parents are two of the most important people in my life.  I'll get to my love and admiration for my father in another post, because since it's only two short days until Mother's Day, my mom (and moms in general) is the subject of this one.

My mom is literally the greatest.  There's probably nothing I'll be able to do for the rest of my life that will both repay my mother for everything she's done for me and atone for all the stress I've caused her.  And I'm not alone, I think.  Sure, there are people out there whose moms are not really shining examples of nurturing and love, and I can endorse those people not being super excited for Mother's Day, but most people, I think, owe a lot more to their mothers than they realize on a day to day basis.

Mother's Day was started by Anna Jarvis in 1908.  Anna wanted people to commemorate 'the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world' and that, I think, is a great way to describe most mothers.  A mother loves her child more than almost anyone else in their entire life will, and she probably loves them longest.  Being loved by anyone is humbling, but the kind of truly unconditional, unqualified love of a mother is the kind of thing that you need a single day to celebrate because if you thought about it as much as you should, you'd be literally paralyzed by humility.

I'm gonna wrap it up because there are only so many times that I can say that my mom rocks and that I love her, so just make this Mother's Day count, you guys.  I probably don't know your mom, but she's probably awesome.  Just sayin'.

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