Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
By Walter Isaacson, 656 frickin' pages.
I was reluctant to start this tome of a book, but the moment I sat down and cracked that spine, I was in. Steve Jobs was a phenomenal visionary dude. He got us to interact with technology in new ways several times over with the Mac, iPod, iPad, iTunes, etc etc. I worship at the altar of Apple (I have a Mac, two iPods, an iPad AND an iPhone -- yeah, I have a problem), so this was of interest to me already, but I had no idea what an interesting guy he really was.
Isaacson tells the tale of Jobs in an honest and straightforward manner.
Steve Jobs has always reminded me a bit of my dad. They were both named Steve. They both were kind of jerks. They both loved technology fiercely. They were born about the same time and both died of cancer last year...the iPhone 4 was the last each of them would own in life. In a way, I was able to resolve some issues with my dad through reading about Steve's struggles relating to his own daughters. Arrogant fathers, stubborn daughters, and grudges are NOT worth it in this life.
I recommend this book if you are at all into biography or technology. It is an intimidating size, but the hold list is non-existant at this point, so you can renew it!
Min and Ed only went out for a month. But two weeks was all it took for Min to fall in love. Min, who loves old movies and uses odd words and gets called artsy by people who don't really know her. Min writes Ed a letter - a very long letter - telling him everything their relationship was to her and why they broke up. Along with the letter, she gives him back everything he ever gave her, from the movie tickets to the cookbook to the box of matches. Why We Broke Up is Min's letter to Ed.
The only reason I even read this book is because it was written by Daniel Handler. Who is also Lemony Snicket. The Series of Unfortunate Events books were some of my absolute favorite books as a kid and when I read that he wrote a book for teens I was excited to say the least. And I wasn't disappointed, despite the fact that the story was angsty and horribly high school-ish. But it was beautiful, you guys. Min is wonderful and I want her to be my new best friend. She's funny and clever and brave and dramatic and perfectly flawed. But the writing. Some passages I seriously read like 5 times because it's just worded so dang beautifully. And I can't forget the art! Throughout the book are pictures of everything Ed gave Min that she is giving back to him. The art is really pretty and I felt like it fit the tone of the book perfectly.
Monday, February 27, 2012
OK. I've seen the movie twice, listened to the audiobook, and have checked out the written version. That should tell you I think this is worth your time.
My history education was weak. Therefore, historical fiction sometimes fills in some details, or makes me more interested in finding out more about a historical event that I was unaware of.
I have long been aware of the Holocaust, but not that when France was occupied by the Nazis, that the French police and government participated in the rounding up and shipping off of French citizens with Jewish ancestry.
This fictionalized story weaves the story of one such young girl into the story of a present-day journalist. It is a sad story, but the times were sad. Toward the end of the book I was wondering how on earth the author could bring the story to a close without just stopping it abruptly. She manages to do so well, and leaves the actual end of the story up for grabs.
All in all, read it, listen to it, or watch it.
I have just finished reading "Anne Frank Remembered" a couple months ago and decided I should re-read Anne's own words. This edition is expanded and contains the whole of her diary. Previous editions were edited by Anne's father and left out many entries dealing with mother-daughter struggles and well as entries dealing with sex.
It's well worth reading and remembering this era of the world's history. It and Miep Gies' book make good companion reading. They describe two sides of the same story.
This is the third installment of the Troublesome Creek series.
Copper returns to the mountains of her birth after the death of her doctor husband. She serves the women of the mountains with her midwife skills, but discovers life is not as she remembers it in the mountains.
Will she find love again? Will she get over the loss of her husband?
A nice, gentle read.
This was the book that inspired the movie of the same name. The movie intrigued me, so I wanted to see how close the movie was to the book -- plus I having a son living in CA where the movie was set, I thought it would be interesting to visit that particular zoo.
Well, this is one instance where I enjoyed the movie more than the book. The movie is "BASED ON" the book, but rather loosely. The movie was set in CA. The book is in the UK. The movie protagonist is a widower from the start. The book has her dying part way. The kid are an integral part of the movie. The kids are in the book. The movie has the token love interest. The book does not.
It's worth the time to read, just don't expect everything to be like the movie, although some events are just as depicted.
I chose this book based on the recommendation of a friend and I'm glad I did. I also used it as a "buy my first e-book" test.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Calvin Schwa is a boy so bland that he is essentially invisible. Antsy Bontano is intrigued by this, and decides to test it, and then profit from it. What happens next will leave Antsy, his family and the Schwa changed forever.
I've been reading a much of Shusterman's books to prepare for his visit Tuesday, and I'm upset that I've waited this long to discover him. His books are poignant, sweet, funny and great.
This nonfiction book looks at the people involved in the Salem Witch trials, from the afflicted, to the accused, the clergy and the judges, and even the elite of the time. It gives a short bio of each person, how they reacted during the trials and what happened to them afterwards. The book was a little dry at times and didn't bring history to life, but if you want a plain, factual look at the people involved, this is a great resource.
The storybook characters have been forced to flee their land and are now dwelling in New York City, except for the non-human ones, who live on a secluded farm away from mundies, as they call regular humans. But those characters are no longer content to live a quiet life, tucked away on the farm. Who will survive this animal revolution?
This graphic novel series is great, very much intended for mature audiences. There's a byplay between Goldilocks and the 3 Bears that goes into Goldie's relationship with Baby Bear, and it's not because his bed was "just right". The artwork is great and the storyline is compelling, it really gives a whole new backstory to my favorite fairytale characters.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Jessica Wakefield is having a blast visiting her brother, Steven, at Sweet Valley University. And after just one day, she's found the perfect college guy. Zach Marsden is twenty years old, tall, dark and handsome. They make an awesome campus couple-at least, that's what Jessica thinks. There's only one problem: Zach believes that Jessica is a college junior! And she's going to make sure he never finds out the truth. Elizabeth Wakefield is in love...with college! When Elizabeth spends all night writing a paper for a journalism class, Steven and Jessica think she's crazy. But then the professor gives her the opportunity to be a real live reporter. With an offer like that, will Elizabeth ever go back to high school?
Josh has been bugging me to read an adult book for awhile, so I picked this one up and was not disappointed. In fact, it was one of the best books I have read in a long time and now I am very much looking forward to the sequel.
I highly recommend listening to this on audio, the reader was fantastic.
I kept seeing this book pop up whenever I would search for books similar to what I have been reading, so I went ahead and gave it a shot. Teenage girl drawn to a teenage boy, turns out he is "other-worldly" and they are star-crossed lovers who must find a way to make it work (after his angsty attempts at keeping her at a distance ... for her own safety, of course). I thought it was predictable and boring, and won't be picking up the sequel.
This was one of the most touching and sad books I've read. I picked it up thinking it was going to be about high school bullies and that was completely off base. Wonderful read, I can't wait to see Neal Shusterman on Tuesday.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
These books are just lots of fun to read. Hiccup is an unlikely Viking hero who continues to fall into adventure after adventure. I have to say that Toothless is my favorite part.
I have a weakness for cookbooks. I own so many that they fill almost an entire bookcase -- and that's after I weeded them down to my favorite ones a while back. Cooking is something I enjoy, and I try to cook every night instead of relying on takeout or convenience foods. Plus, even though I have my favorite things that I make again and again, I usually try at least one new recipe a week. I was hoping to find inspiration in Bee Linn Low's "Easy Chinese Recipes," but I'm afraid that wasn't the case. I consider myself a pretty good Chinese cook, yet there really wasn't anything I'd try from this cookbook. Nearly every single recipe contains meat or seafood, and I'm a strict vegetarian. And, in an attempt to make the recipes simple, I fear the author dumbed them down to the point that more serious cooks won't bother. (It seemed almost everything was made with oyster sauce and soy sauce. Um, how about black bean paste? Tamari? Chili paste? Those are ways to add depth of flavor to a dish, too, and are readily available in most stores now.) However, there is a variety in here for people new to Chinese cooking, from restaurant favorites such as Sweet and Sour Pork to the slightly more exotic Salt and Pepper Squid. The photos look yummy, and they do a great job of showing the steps required to make a particular dish. I'm sure many people will get something from this book. It just wasn't for me.
Neal Shusterman is coming to the library in less than a week so I've started reading his books. This features Nick and Allie who die in a car accident and end up in a land between life and the afterlife. This land is Everlost and the children who reside are called Afterlights. Allie is not content to settle for the answers she's been given and is determined to find a way home.
This was an outstanding book that I'm upset I'd missed for so long. I'm going to start the next one very quickly to see what happens to Allie and Nick.
The fairytales have fled their land, those who survived the attack of the Adversary, and now are living in New York City. Snow White's sister, Rose Red, is believed dead and she is working with their sheriff, the Big Bad Wolf, to figure out who did it. This was a great graphic novel, very adult, bringing a new view to some old stories. I especially liked the story at the end telling of how The Big Bad Wolf and Snow White met. I will be picking up the rest of the graphic novels very soon.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I've read all the Sookie Stackhouse books many times, and enjoyed them all. I was stuck in the van for 20 minutes waiting for someone and this was the only book I could find in the van so I started re-reading. After that point I was 50 pages in so I went ahead and finished it. If you like vampire books with sex appeal and lots of humor, this is a series you don't want to miss.
This is a non-fiction look at circus life and it's history, centered in England. While it was interesting, it didn't cover enough of the historical aspects and centered too much on England for it too be truly enjoyable for me. There were a multitude of references that I didn't get because I didn't grow up watching English telly, so you might want to pass on this if you don't have that background.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
The Royal Stuarts were a family that seemed destined to destroy themselves through bad choices and passion. Mary, Queen of Scots and James of the King James Bible are two of the most famous members but the family is filled with people who changed England and Scotland forever.
This novel follows the Stuarts from their earliest known beginnings up to the last known member, a Cardinal in Frascati, Italy, along with all the sweeping sagas inbetween. Allan Massie's book "The Royal Stuarts" is a gripping read for anyone who is a fan of English history, royalty or just history in general.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Vegan (and vegetarian) cookbooks are everywhere. I swear every time I open up a library journal I see several and I'm sure Linda, the library's collection development librarian, is sick of my suggestions for purchase of these types of books. That said, Mama Pea (aka Sarah Matheny) knows how to write a cookbook. Not only are there delicious, easy to make vegan recipes, there are fun stories about her adorable children and husband that go with most every one of them. I especially liked this book because most of the ingredients in the recipes were things that I already had in my cabinet, with the exceptions being available at the grocery store, though I'm having trouble finding Tahini--an ingredient used in humus and the black bean burgers that I'm planning to make this week.
So far I've made the Blueberry Streusel Muffins, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes and Peanut Butter Dough Balls and they've all been delicious, especially the muffins. Can you tell I like sweets?
Highly recommended! Plus, you should check out her blog also called Peas & Thank You.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
This is Frankenstein meets Oliver Twist as a teen book. Billy is a London pickpocket who finds himself as an ally of Mister Creecher, Frankenstein's monster. Mister Creecher is determined to get from Frankenstein what has been promised and needs Billy's help. I don't want to give away too many plot details so I'll leave it at that. I really enjoyed this book, finding it a great behind-the-scenes look at two great classics, up until the end. This book left me feeling the same way The Hunchback of Notre Dame did, wanting to rewrite it with an ending I liked instead. But that is the way a good book works, making you feel ownership of the characters and the storyline. I really think Lisa Brown would enjoy this book.
I've seen every episode of M*A*S*H over the years and part of the movie, but have never read the book. I finally decided to change that. It was difficult at times to read the book because I kept comparing it to the tv show, especially Hawkeye. The book was good on its own but I did feel, guiltily, that I didn't like it as much as the show.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
by Morgan Rice, 196 pages.
Just when I had given up the P.C. Cast series because I couldn't stand myself for reading them, I read this. It's possibly even WORSE. I devoured it in a day, and I think that's what the author did as well.
I think she woke up one Saturday morning and thought, "I'm going to write a vampire novel." and then she wrote feverishly until midnight that night not proofreading AT ALL or thinking twice about her plot or any consistency whatsoever. And I read it. I might have to place myself on the sacrificial sword for this one...
Friday, February 17, 2012
Edna Buchanan’s novel A Dark and Lonely Place is based on the real life characters John Ashley and Laura Upthegrove. John and Laura were the Florida version of Bonnie and Clyde. Buchanan, then a reporter for the Miami Herald, was fascinated by the stories she heard of John’s and Laura’s escapades.
One night in the newspaper morgue she stumbled onto John’s picture and her fascination suddenly had a face. How had this handsome young man with an infectious grin become such a notorious criminal that the Florida governor called him more dangerous than the Seminole Wars?
A century later Buchanan creates for us his life as it played out in Florida in the early 20th century. She also tells how it might play out in Florida now. A Dark and Lonely Place is historical fiction and a modern crime novel woven together. For the modern John Ashley’s trials and troubles closely follow the tale of his historical counterpart.
The real John Ashley grew up with Laura Upthegrove in West Florida along the Caloosahatchee River. They met in school when he was 7 and she was 5. They became each other’s best friend and as they grew older, fell in love.
When his family abruptly moved to south Florida when John was 16, he vowed to come back for Laura. However years pass and when he finally returns it is to mourn Laura’s death as he believes she died of yellow fever.
By chance John finds Laura very much alive and even though Laura is now married and the mother of two children they are reunited. They make a good life for themselves until a fateful day in 1911 when John shoots a man in self-defense. He is accused of murder, goes on the run, and the downward spiral begins.
The modern John Ashley is much like his historical counterpart, handsome, charming and the best shot around. He is a decorated homicide detective and while sunbathing on the beach with his fiancée a murder case lands in his lap.
It would have literally been in his lap if he hadn’t noticed a speed boat racing toward the shore and managed to evacuate the area before it ran ashore. At the helm of the boat is a very dead Ron Jon Eagle, a Miami defense lawyer known for his lifestyle and win at all cost tactics. Eagle’s cause of death was not the accident but gunshot wounds to the back of head.
John and his partner scramble to get as much information as possible before the identity of the murder victim is published. Eagle has three houseguests, models in town for a photo shoot. By the time John’s partner finds them one is dead, the second is on a plane bound for home, and the third is picked up on the way to the airport.
When John finally finds time to question model number three he meets his Laura. The connection between the two is instantaneous, as if they’ve met before. A murder attempt is made on Laura while she is still at the police station and John takes her into protective custody. A second attempt results in the death of the shooter, John’s own police captain. After assuring Laura’s safety and documenting the scene, John calls in the shooting.
What happens next seems inevitable. Instead of a full-blown investigation the department starts covering up and John finds himself framed for murder. When he realizes what is happening, he and Laura, with the help of his family, go on the run.
In the prologue the author wonders if, as history repeats it’s self, it is possible to change your destiny. Her answer is in the conclusion of the modern John and Laura’s story.
I enjoyed this fictionalized account of the historical John and Laura. That story could stand alone and be a very good novel. As for their modern day counterparts; even though I found some of the attempts to parallel the lives of the two couples over the top it was still entertaining. Library regular print and large print and I read large print (that's why the page count is high) as it was checked in.
I'm not familiar with P.J. O'Rourke's work as a political humorist but saw this book and thought it was a humor book about traveling with children. I discovered my mistake almost immediately but will read pretty much anything (it's an addiction) so I went ahead with it. I'm glad I did because he's a funny writer who has traveled the world and now is bringing his family some of the time. While he's more Republican than I normally enjoy, the book was enjoyable enough that I was willing to forgive him for that, lol.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Karou, with her strange tattoos, bright blue hair, and sketchbook full of fantastical creatures, isn't a normal seventeen year old. She is an art student at a boarding school in Prague, but other than that, her friends know nothing about her. Even Karou herself doesn't know much. She disappears often, running strange, secret errands for the creatures who fill her sketchbook. Yes, they are real. They're called chimaera - half animal, half human - and Karou has lived with them since she was a baby. But Karou's life will get much stranger and more dangerous before she finally discovers the truth about her past.
Finally, a book worth recommending! I haven't read a book this beautiful in a long time. The first half of the book seemed a little slow at times, but as a whole, it was well worth it. Karou is wonderfully developed; she is strong and beautiful and talented, yet she has a vulnerability about her that makes her realistic, without being angsty. Even the secondary characters are fantastic, from Issa, the half snake lady who has been like a mother to Karou, to Zuzana, Karou's quirky best friend. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I will say that it involves a boy named Akiva, who is dark and mysterious and sexy and totally book crush worthy :)
Oh and it's a series! Which usually makes me groan because seriously, can there not be stand alone YA anymore? But in this case it actually makes me super happy because I really love this book!
Convicted murderer John Marin is back! His one goal: to kill Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Using his cunning and ingenuity, he has escaped from jail and is stalking the California coast in search of his prey. Thinking Marin is safely behind bars, Ned Wakefield takes his family on an island vacation. But little does he know that while his daughters are swimming in the hotel pool, John Marin is plotting his final revenge. Will Ned get to the twins before it's too late? Or will this vacation be Jessica and Elizabeth's last?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
When Ned Wakefield learns that John Marin, the man he sent to jail for murder, is out, he's gripped by fear. He'll never forget Marin's last words: "I'll get you, Wakefield. Your precious little girls will never be safe again." Ned hires a private detective to keep an eye on Jessica and Elizabeth, and cautions his daughters to be alert to strangers. But then Elizabeth meets Ben, a young novelist, and Jessica meets Scott, a gorgeous television intern. Forgetting their father's warning, they fall right into Marin's deadly trap. Can Ned rescue the twins-or will they be John Marin's next victims?
Monday, February 13, 2012
Imagine a world where Dracula wasn't vanquished by Van Hesling and his compatriots, but instead not only won but married Queen Victoria, ushering in a world where vampires not only walk among "warms" but rule England. Then throw in Jack the Ripper killing vampire streetwalkers and you've got a great twist on a vampire story.
Jessica Wakefield's told one of the biggest lies of her life, and now there's no way out. If Zach Marsden finds out that Jessica's really just a high school girl visiting her big brother at Sweet Valley University, he'll dump her. And Jessica's secret is going to be very hard to keep-especially when her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, shows up at SVU for a surprise visit. Elizabeth Wakefield has been offered the chance to make a grown-up life for herself at Sweet Valley University! She's ready to kiss high school good-bye...until Todd Wilkins and the rest of her friends and family tell her that this is a great opportunity. Elizabeth feels miserable. Doesn't anyone care about losing her?
Saturday, February 11, 2012
This is the 3rd book in a really fun series. This is what you would call regency paranormal steampunk (did you even know such a thing existed?) and each one has me laughing and eagerly turning pages. My one regret with this book is that there wasn't enough zombie porcupines in it!
I like watching American Pickers on the History Channel so when I saw this book come into the library, it was a definite must read. I could never walk up to someone's house and see if they would let me pick, but I like reading about it. You wouldn't want to read this book if you haven't seen the show, but fans of the show will enjoy this.
This book covers Alice Paul, one of the fighters who helped gain the vote for women. Every time I read some of this book I would get angry and outraged at the thinking that kept us from being able to vote for so long. I've never been denied something because of my gender (except maybe writing my name in the snow, lol) but there is still discrimination inflicted throughout America and the world. If you want a book that will educate, entertain and leave you more determined to use your vote, this is a book you must read.
Remember watching Birds and thinking nothing could be scarier? Imagine it with pet cats going crazy and attacking one and all in groups. This was a totally hokey read from 1976, complete with a cigarette ad in the middle of the book. It was bad in a good way, I will never look at a group of cats the same way.
Friday, February 10, 2012
One of the courses I am studying this semester is World Literature. The first thing I learned is that writing came about because of economics and not from a desire to record stories. That was interesting. So far I have read the epic of Gilgamesh, several ancient Egyptian poems, and Homer's Illiad. I loved Gilgamesh; The Illiad is tolerable (but not my favorite); and I was intrigued by the Egyptian poetry. My favorite:
Love of you is mixed deep in my vitals
"Love of you is mixed deep in my vitals, like water stirred into flour for bread,
Like simples compound in a sweet tasting drug, like pastry and honey mixed to perfection.
Oh, hurry to look at your love! Be like horses charging in battle,
Like a gardener up with the sun burning to watch his prize bud open.
High heaven causes a girl's lovelonging.
It is like being too far from the light,
Far from the hearth of familiar arms.
It is this being so tangled in you."
So far I have read 172 pages, and I will continue to share the stories I've studied as the semester progresses.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
When I picked this book up, I had no idea what it was about. All the reviews I had read were pretty vague as far as the story line goes, but it seemed like everyone was absolutely raving about this novel. The only synopsis you get from Amazon is this:
"Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.
So I was pretty excited to read it. It looked dark, mysterious, and creepy. And it was. But I have really mixed feelings about this book... There were a few moments where I was like, "Oh my gosh this book is so crazy good!" But then it would turn into this Twilight-y, sappy, this-guy-is-so-perfect-how-could-I-ever-be-good-enough story. I think this would definitely appeal to teens who liked Twilight or the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, but I thought it lacked the depth and originality to captivate me the way I was expecting.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
You all know my youngest daughter, Katie, was recently diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma -- Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma. Well, even though I have had family members with cancer (my dad died from colon cancer) it just gets a little weirder to have it happen to one's child -- especially when they are only 25! So, I'd heard about this book and decided maybe it would help to keep me from doing or saying something stupid.
The book gives lots of do's and don'ts and stories from the author's personal experience and research to back it up. By the end of the book, I was tiring of reading it, but I at least found out that, according to the author, I haven't done anything really stupid so far..............
This is the second in the Change and Cherish series by Jane Kirkpatrick. It is inspired by a real woman, Emma Geisey, who traveled the Oregon Trail with a communal religious sect. Geisey was an independent and strong-minded woman, something not appreciated by the autocratic commune leader. In this book Emma is widowed and takes extraordinary measures to keep her children together in the face of the community. All does not work out as she has planned.
This series is as accurate as a fiction series can be according to the website for the Aurora Colonies historical society site. I will get around to reading or listening to the third volume.
Monday, February 6, 2012
A dead body enrobed in chocolate, all in all, a sweet murder mystery. I really like this series, but you couldn't pay me to live in Tinker's Cove since they have a high number of dead bodies turn up.
Everyone knows that Jessica Wakefield lives for sun, fun, and guys. So how did she manage an almost perfect score on her SATs? There's a rumor going around Sweet Valley High that Jessica cheated. Will acing her college boards mean acceptance at the university of her dreams-or will it ruin her chances forever? Todd Wilkins is driving Elizabeth Wakefield crazy. Now that college basketball scouts are showering Elizabeth's boyfriend with flattery and attention, he thinks he's hot stuff. He even tells Elizabeth she's lucky to have him! When Todd's head gets too big to fit through the Wakefields' front door, will Elizabeth send him walking?