The ABCs of Metallica by Metallica, Howie Abrams, Michael Kaves: A Book for Everyone Who’s Wanted to Use “Cute” and “Metallica” in the same thought

The ABCs of Metallica

The ABCs of Metallica

by Metallica, Howie Abrams, Michael Kaves (Illustrator)

Hardcover, 48 pg.
Permuted Press, 2019

Read: November 26, 2019

Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


I’m struggling to come up with something to say about this. I want to go on for a few hundred words, but the book is too short for that. And honestly, if the concept doesn’t make you curious enough to check it out, it really doesn’t matter what I say.

But, oh, well—let’s give it a shot.

This is your basic A-B-C’s book, with a short burst of rhyming text starting with consecutive letters, acrostic poem style. The focus of this book is the history, personnel (Cliff Burton, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, anyway), and music of Metallica. Just your typical picture book, really. Kid-friendly, but Metallica fans who aren’t afraid to be silly should be able to enjoy it, too.

It’s a little wordy for a picture book, but nothing terrible. I don’t know how much of the text Metallica is really responsible for and how much Abrams should get the credit for (my hunch is more the latter), but that’s not important. There’s some nice info, cute rhymes (sure, some of the rhymes are stretches, but who cares?), and fun ways to come up with something for every letter.

The illustrations are great. Again, kid-friendly but adult-friendly, too. McLeer is a Graffiti and Tattoo artist and it really comes through—I can see my son, a real Metallica fanatic, getting a couple of these tattooed on him, actually.

It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s a great idea—and proceeds are going to charity. Grab a copy, really.


3.5 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

The Great Brain (Audiobook) by John D. Fitzgerald, Ron McLarty: A frequently pleasant stroll down memory lane

The Great Brain (Audiobook)The Great Brain

by John D. Fitzgerald, Ron McLarty (Narrator)
Series: The Great Brain, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 4 Hours, 41 Minutes
Listening Library, 2002

Read: February 25 – 26, 2019


Growing up, these stories about a pre-teen con artist in late 19th Century Utah were among my favorites. I remember stumbling on a box set at a Yard Sale after I’d read them from the Library a couple of times and just about wore out the set reading and re-reading them. Even then, I remember that I had problems with some of the characters, and recall that my favorite was always the narrator, John D., not the titular Great Brain himself, Tom D. About 10 years ago, I read the series to my kids, and enjoyed it (possibly more than they did), but not as much as I remembered. Still, when I saw it listed as a new addition to my library’s catalog, I took a second glance and when I saw that Ron McLarty did the narration, I had to try it.

This book is a series of episodes from over a year or so in the life of three brothers, Sweyn D., Tom D. and John D. Fitzgerald. Sweyn is around a little bit as the more mature eldest brother, John’s the youngest (8 or 9, I believe) and Tom is 10 and the star. He’s Greedy, conniving, and ambitious — and his ego is bigger than the rest of his attributes combined. They live in a small, largely LDS, town in Utah during the last decade of the 1800s. The episodes feature different ways in which Tom’s Great Brain works to make him money and/or notoriety in the community, especially with the kids.

Some of these antics are silly, some are serious. Almost all of them are profitable for Tom. The strength of the stories is the humanity of the rest of the community — the traveling Jewish merchant, the local farmers, the Greek immigrant family, for starters. The weakness comes from the very laissez-faire approach to parenting the Fitzgeralds take — allowing Tom D. to pretty much get away with everything he wants.

There is some charm, some heart, throughout — even from Tom. That part appeals to me, the ego-driven greedy exploits of the Great Brain don’t. John’s narration occasionally will critique Tom’s motives, but mostly John’s a little brother thinking his big brother is fantastic no matter what. I know John becomes more disillusioned later, but for now, it was annoying. I want better for him.

How’s the narration you ask? Honestly, the chance to listen to Ron McLarty narrate was half the reason I had for grabbing this. McLarty will always be Sgt. Frank Belson to me, despite the many other things he’s accomplished in life. He did a fine job, at times a great job. Something about him reading the contraction-less dialogue bugged the tar out of me. George Guidal can make it work when he reads Henry Standing Bear — although it helps that no one else does it. McLarty can’t make it work, probably because despite the fact that slang is used, time appropriate language — but not a contraction from anyone? I don’t lay the fault at McLarty’s feet, it’s just a prominent feature.

I still recommend the books and enjoyed them. It’s just a tempered enjoyment. I’ll probably keep chipping away at the series over the next few months — waiting to see John’s disillusionment grow, and the brothers develop a conscience.

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3 Stars

2019 Library Love Challenge

The Fed-up Cow by Peta Lemon, Maria Dasic Todoric

The Fed-up CowThe Fed-up Cow

by Peta Lemon, Maria Dasic Todoric (Illustrator)

eARC, 34 pg.
Quirky Picture Press, 2018

Read: February 14, 2018


Hilda’s a cow — a cow who is bored, fed up actually, with being a cow. From her vantage point, the life of a sheep, a pig, or a hen is so much better and more interesting than life as a cow. She samples each before coming to a conclusion — and learning a lesson about accepting who you are. The story is told in a rhyming verse that should appeal to younger readers/listeners.

Todoric’s art is engaging and entertaining — it tells at least half of the story on its own. Which is perfect for this age group, a child can follow the plot and “read” the story on their own without needing to actually read anything.

A cute story, charmingly told with attractive art. Pretty much what the doctor ordered.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

Henry and the Hidden Treasure by B.C.R. Fegan, Lenny Wen

Henry and the Hidden TreasureHenry and the Hidden Treasure

by B.C.R. Fegan, Lenny Wen (Illustrator)

eARC, 32 pg.
TaleBlade, 2017

Read: July 14, 2017


It’d be easy for this to contain more words than the actual book — so I’ll try to keep it short. Henry’s got a little bit of money, and doesn’t want his little sister to get it. So he sets up a series of elaborate traps and challenges (think Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Home Alone) to keep her from it.

Along the way, his imagination his on full display and he eventually learns something. There’s a very sweet ending that will hopefully teach by example.

I cannot say enough good things about Wen’s artwork. It’s adorable. It’s dynamic. It’s simple, but eye-catching. It doesn’t detract from the story, but shapes and propels it. There’s not a lot of detail, but what’s there is important.

For the younger set, I can’t imagine how this won’t become a favorite. Thankfully, it should be pretty easy for parents to re-read. Amusing story with great art. That’s pretty much what you’re looking for in this kind of book, right? Available in hard copy and e-book, it’s a great buy.

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

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4 Stars

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

Let’s try that unfortunate review from yesterday again (think it came out better, but I know I forgot something I had last time)

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On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga, #1)On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s great when a book exceeds your expectations — especially when the expectations are pretty healthy to begin with. I knew Andrew Peterson could tell a story well — the best of his songs are stories. So I expected a nice little fantasy story for kids, well constructed, good imagery, and so on. I got more than that with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

It is a pretty straightforward kids fantasy — three child protagonists, a quaint little village, some colorful characters, nasty villains (an occupying force of humanoid lizards that eat maggots and mucous) , dragons and other strange creatures, and missing treasure. There’s excitement, danger, a strong family bond, and well-rounded characters. All that’s good enough.

But you take all the above and tell it with the the sensibilities of a hodgepodge of C. S. Lewis, Douglas Adams, and Neil Gaiman. There’s a strong sense of play here — in the language, characters, and style. Peterson’s whimsy carries this story. A few examples: the scariest creature in the world is a cow, one heroic figure wears socks on his hands, there’s a running joke about rashes that speak to the inner twelve year-old in everyone.

It’s these sensibilities that elevate this from a standard read, into something more — fun, daring and at times delightful, that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.