Monday, December 29, 2008

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I finally broke down and read this. My friend Shelly recommended it and since I trust her instincts, I got a copy from the library. After being 20 millionth in line....

This was an entertaining teen romance-type book between a vampire and a chick. Buffy and Angel, they are definitely NOT. Edward and Bella, our young couple, meet in school after Bella transfers to Forks to live with her dad. Edward is apparently a stunning specimen of flesh (seeing the movie posters makes me beg to differ) and Bella is soon madly in love as only a teenager can be. Are they doomed? What, with him being a bloodsucker and all? Who knows....this is only the first book in the series. I'm in line for the next book, #10,001.

So far, I agree that this is a cute series, definitely made for teens but entertaining for everyone. Quick reads, I'll never purchase the books and probably won't see the movie, but it will be a fun journey to see what happens to these kiddos.

I do have a quibble: vampires DO NOT and never ever should *sparkle*. Geesh.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die by Tom Moon

The title pretty much says it all.

I read through nearly 90% of the entries, taking notes along the way. But the library wanted it back so I had to skim the rest. Darn them.

I found a lot new music to listen to and try and pondered why Moon choose the right artist at times but the wrong albums. My personal opinion obviously. (M.I.A. is awesome but Kala is the best, not Arular) He also lists 108 recordings at the end that he didn't get to list in the main book.

If you're a music fan, this is well worth checking out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I've been hearing about the new stop-animation movie of Coraline coming out and I was intrigued. This is a YA book and pretty thin. Ergo, it was a quick read.

It turned out to be really great story. It even creeped me out some :)

Coraline Jones is a little girl, about 10, who lives with her parents in a flat. Coraline explores the property, but on a rainy day, her father suggests that she explore the flat itself. She comes upon a door that opens up to a brick wall. Later that night, she discovers the door partially open and the brick wall no longer. Being the adventurer that she is, Coraline ventures into the corridor into another world, much like her own but very different.

The book takes the reader on a journey as Coraline attempts to outwit the evil "other mother" to rescue 3 lost children and her parents.

Even if you're an oldie, you'll like this book

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Darker Side by Cody McFadyen

3rd in the Smokey Barrett series, this book was just as good as the first (which I read in a day). The 2nd in the series was slightly disappointing but by putting Smokey and team on the trail of a religious serial killer, McFadyen brought me back :)

There were too many places where I said "Oh wow." that I don't want to give anything away. I'll summarize by saying people are being murdered (duh) and there's a religious bent to it. That's all I can give ya.

Smokey herself makes leaps and bounds in this book, giving away not 1 but TWO deep dark secrets. This book is all about the dirty little secrets everyone has. And what they do with them.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Face of Death by Cody McFadyen

This is the 2nd in the Smokey Barrett series. As captivated as I was by Shadow Man, I just didn't feel the same pull with this one. While it was still very good, and I did read it within a day, I don't think it was as exciting.

I believe the reason is because the newest serial killer focused on someone else out of Smokey's team. A young girl named Sarah. And honestly, I didn't believe Sarah was a great character. Sad, yes. Pitiful, yep. But not someone I really was interested in.

Someone has been following Sarah since she was 6, killing off everyone that she loves. Smokey's team gets involved when, after the latest round of killings, Sarah requests Smokey by name.

It all ends up a little complex, pulling in a child-trafficking case from eons prior.

This is still a decent mystery/thriller all on it's own. I just miss the fast-paced excitement from the first book.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Heat by Bill Buford

The real (long) title of this book is

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

I got this as an audio book from the library and it took forever to listen to. Not because it's bad. In fact Buford reads the book exceptionally well. But because it made me hungry. I swear, everytime I listened to this, I was craving Italian food. It's a wonder I didn't gain 50 pounds just listening to this.

So Buford is a journalist who, accepting an invitation from Mario Batali, works in Batali's restaurant, Babbo, to get a feel for the business. His need to understand, really understand, Italian cooking has him traveling to Italy to apprentice with several famous cooks and butchers.

From becoming a butcher in training, to learning how to make handmade pasta (apparently the best kind) to researching the myth of Italian cooking, this book is a wonderful journey.

If you love food, just love it for the experience of food, this is the book to read.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen

It's been a long while since I read a book in 2 sittings in less than a day. A coworker lent me this book, claiming it was a great mystery and thriller. I was skeptical but am now a believer!

Smoky Barrett is the lead character, an FBI agent who was tortured, raped and left without a family by a serial killer that she had been chasing. Left with facial scars, Smoky returns to work (after much heartache and indecision) to hunt the newest serial killer.

Jack Jr. thinks he's the descendant of Jack the Ripper and he wants Smoky to be the person to hunt him. Targeting her and her team, this is a fast-paced chase to the end. Really, I found myself reading very very fast.

There are several twists and turns that I won't reveal. Suffice it to say that the ending twist did make me gasp.

This book is filled to the brim with great characters, the kind you actually want to root for. It has suspense, plot and enough visceral images to make you consider not reading it while you eat.

The first book in the series (the third is apparently out now), I'll be starting the 2nd

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill

I've been super scattered on reading actual books lately, so I've switched to audio books to keep me going while driving around and while knitting. This was on my list of books to read and since the library had it, I gave it a go.

This is a memoir type book about a man, who was born to privilege and lived a life of privilege. His parents had money, but not always time. He went to an Ivy League school and got a great job right out of college. Gill was a top executive for a long time, enjoying all the perks that went along with it. Until he was fired.

At age 64, virtually penniless, friendless and having lost his wife and children (sleeping around on your wife will do that), he desperately took a job at a Starbucks.

From there we begin his new adventure of redeeming himself. This may sound sarcastic or even sappy, but in fact, this is a really good story. Despite all his dumb mistakes and assumptions that he, as a rich white male, deserves more than others, he seems to really "get it" while working to serve others.

A good, uplifting memoir.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Art of Happiness at Work by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler

This seemed like the perfect book to pick up and read. I have deep respect for The Dalai Lama and I really needed some advice on how to be happier at work.

I used to really love my job. It was exciting, for the most part, and every day usually held something new and challenging in store. Nowadays, it's not like that. There's a distinct vibe of us vs. them in most cases, IT vs. Accountants. Some of the financial folk chose to think that anyone can program so they'll just take care of what they want and ignore us programmers. The work isn't nearly challenging enough either, although the people are.

Cutler interviews The Dalai Lama about various aspects of work in regards to happiness. For example, they chat about making money, the human factor of work, whether your job is just a job, a career or a calling, how to overcome boredom, how to have a right livelihood, etc. I appreciated his insight on all of the above. Unfortunately, while I think it's all good advice, it will be difficult to put into practice.

In one chapter, and throughout others, the importance of being self-aware is emphasized. I think a lot of people have that problem, to be able to look at themselves and their abilities undistorted and with a critical eye. All in all, the way to achieve happiness, at work or otherwise, is to begin inwards, by readjusting your attitude to all things and remembering that it's just work and that doing good and helping others is more important.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Another Librivox recording.

This was a blast from my childhood! Alice's adventures in Wonderland are exciting and begin with a trip down the rabbit hole to follow the white rabbit. I think The Matrix ruined this a little but I tried to ignore it.

Alice recounts her adventures in getting big and small, swimming in an ocean of her tears, meeting fun, talkative animals (for some reason, Bill the lizard endeared me), meeting up with the mad hatter and march hare at their permanent tea time, meeting and playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts (off with her head!) and being a witness in a trial about the Queen's stolen tarts.

A fun, short book to read when Wonderland seems a little less chaotic than your real world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Raw Vol 2. No. 3

Tagged as High Culture for Low Brows, this is a graphic novel full of eclectic works. My favorite is Maus, which I've read several times before and will be reading several times more in the future. This collection just featured chapter 10 of the Maus series but it gives a good idea to someone new to Maus of just how great the series is.

More fun to be had with a full adventure of Krazy Kat. Made in the 1930's, it's still pretty entertaining. My dad is from 1936 and he's not that entertaining anymore :)

Lynda Barry is always a favorite and was also included. I've read the "strip" before but still really like it.

If you like low brow, read Raw.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz

Shorty review on an Odd Thomas graphic novel:


Ok, kidding. I loved Odd Thomas. That book is exceptional. Books 2-4, not so much. The graphic version is just ok, unfortunately. I got a distinctly different impression of Stormy from the actual novel than I did from the graphic novel. In this one, she's drawn....snotty. As a thinks-she's-bad-ass girl with her nose in the air. I didn't get that AT ALL from the novel. Odd was drawn pretty true to form, however, and I appreciated seeing him for the first time.

Not sure I'll continue reading these but it was fun to try

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

I snagged an Advanced Reading Copy of this book, the start of the Phoenix Chronicles. The book centers on Elizabeth Phoenix, a psychic cop-turned-bartender-turned-seer. Elizabeth, along with Jimmy, a fellow orphan and Elizabeth's first love, and Sawyer, an ancient Navajo know it all, are out to lead the fight against the supernatural evil.

All in all, this wasn't a bad novel and I'll be interested in what the rest of the series brings. However, I think this bordered to much on the Anita Blake type plots, all the way down to the sex sex and wait...more sex. The author admits on the back cover that she wanted to write like Laurell K. Hamilton, I just think it's a little to much like her. I ended up skipping all the many sex scenes, trying to find the fight against evil scenes. Apparently, sex is part of the fight against evil.

Ah well. I do want to see if this series improves and if it can wrench itself away from ... SEX!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Comfort of Home for Alzheimer's Disease by Maria Meyer

I got this book to review a while back and it took some time to get through. Not because it's a bad book at all, but because it has a lot of information that kept me busy online researching.

My dad has Parkinson's Disease induced dementia. It is different from AD in how it affects the brain physically but the symptoms are almost identical. This book was very helpful in it's advice; a lot of it I knew already but some was new.

This book is divided into 3 parts: Getting Ready, Day by Day, and Additional Resources

Getting Ready explains how to prepare for patients with AD, such as financial help, legal help, how to pay for care and how to prepare your home.

Day by Day explains how to set up schedules, avoiding burnout, understanding behaviors of AD patients, etc.

This is a good book for anyone who is caring for loved ones with AD or dementia. The amount of online help advice in this book is incredible.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heat Lightning by John Sandford

Sandford is turning into one of my favorite writers. I've been a fan of Davenport and reluctantly tried his other series. I didn't think he could pull off the Davenport intensity with other characters.

But he does. I was wrong!! Heat Lightning is the second Virgil Flowers novel. Flowers (or "that fuckin' Flowers") works for Davenport in the Twin Cities BCA. This case covers a series of related murders where the victim is placed at the foot of a veteran's monument with a lemon stuck in their mouths. Sounds related.

Flowers is a 30ish guy with an affinity for band t-shirts as his uniform. He's a pretty likable character and he interacts really well with Lucas and the rest of the BCA.

Overall, a good mystery with great characters.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

I'm a fan of forensic fiction and I'm a fan of Bones. I've been reading Reich's novels since Deja Dead and I really enjoy them.

Temperance Brennan is in Charlotte this round and working on several cases that appear to be related to each other via occult rituals/satanism. Cauldrons and various voodoo type objects are found at one scene while a headless body of a young man are found at another.

Brennan and Slidell battle a local "Christian" commissioner who just makes more trouble by riling up the community's fear. Brennan also, unfortunately, battles herself in this novel.

I like this Brennan better than I like TV's Brennan (although she's growing on me) and since Devil Bones leaves things up in the air, I really hope things work out. And I can't wait for the next Brennan book.

Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Another knitting book to guide me on my yarniful journey.

This one actually had a lot of great tips and hints that I haven't learned yet. I have wondered how to determine what number of stitches to cast on for a hat with no pattern. I wrote down a lot of notes (how to determine scarf length, hat size, sock size, etc.) and copied out a lot of her basic patterns.

Although I did pick this up from the library (I like to test drive books first) I've added it to my wishlist to get. I think it will be a pretty valuable reference for my knitting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Another great Librivox recording by a great reader.

Well, this is vastly different from the looney tunes cartoon. Hmph. :)

Just for Reference

This turned out to be a story about duality. Good vs. Evil. Mr. Utterson, a lawyer and good friend of Dr. Jekyll, investigates the appearance of a Mr. Hyde that has caused some concern. Mr. Hyde gives the impression of a deformity, although no one can quite place what it is. Learning that Dr. Jekyll knows Mr. Hyde, in fact has left his entire fortune to Mr. Hyde in a will, Mr. Utterson does his best to find out what is going on.

Mr. Hyde eventually murders someone and is on the run. While Mr. Jekyll assures Mr. Utterson that Hyde is gone, we know that it isn't quite true.

Now, everyone goes into this story knowing what has happened. That Dr. Jekyll has made a "potion" to become Mr. Hyde. That story is as old as the hills. However, you really need to read this novella with an open mind. You'll be inclined to believe that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are really 2 entirely separate people. It wasn't until the last mp3 (or chapters) that the explanations begin to become clear.

Dr. Jekyll knew that he had created a monster, but he was very much aware that the monster was him. At least the dark part of him. Mr. Hyde, at first, is small in stature and that appears to be because Dr. Jekyll, being a good man, didn't really have too much of an evil side. Unwisely, Dr. Jekyll let Mr. Hyde run rampant and let his evil side enjoy all the trappings of a consciousless existence. Not a smart move, Dr. Jekyll.

Mr. Hyde begins to grow and take over. The potion isn't even needed anymore by the end.

Much more sober than the Bugs Bunny version.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bonk by Mary Roach

I like Mary Roach. Her book, Stiff, encouraged me to never ever donate my body to science because I don't want to end up a crash test dummy.

I picked up her new book, Bonk, from the library. It's all about science and sex. This book is fat with tidbits on sex. She had chapters describing penile implant surgery, orgasms, ED, etc. Her and her husband volunteered for a test that took ultrasound pictures of them having sex, to see where the penis hits in the uterus. That's dedication to a book.

Some good tidbits from Bonk:

Kinsey was bisexual.

Kinsey masturbated by shoving things up his weiner. In one case, he used a toothbrush...bristle end first.

Kinsey was one of the first people to notice that the anus puckers during orgasm. He noticed this because he filmed people having sex in his attic.

70% of women cannot have an orgasm with just vaginal stimulation. (Foreplay is vital!)

They found a woman who can have up to 5 orgasms in a row...without touching herself in any way. She just used her mind.

Scientists created a penis camera. Women had sex with it so the scientists can view what happens inside the vagina during sex. (Apparently vaginas expand. Ergo, a lot of women think that the man ... ahem.... isn't in there anymore)

A woman's heartrate increased to 146 beats per minute during her 3rd (of 4) orgasm. However, it's extremely rare to have a sex-induced heart attack UNLESS you are with a prostitute. True facts.

A boar's penis is corkscrewed, like it's tail.

Homosexuals have the best sex... so says a study. Simply because of Gender Empathy.

Great book! I should go on Jeopardy now.

It's good to learn new things.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum

If you subscribe to the Librivox podcast, you get random books downloaded to your ipod. I finally decided to try The Scarecrow of Oz since I enjoyed reading The Wizard of Oz back in the day.

I didn't realize this was the 9th book in the Oz series so it probably wasn't the best place to start however, this was a really great book! I forgot how whimsical and fantastic Baum's stories are and this brought it all back. Sometimes it's really a good thing to be 30+ and to read a story of your childhood :)

This is the story of Cap'n Bill and Trot, an old sailor and a little girl, who get sucked into a whirlpool and end up far from home. They come across an Ork who also got caught in the whirlpool and travels with them on their journey to Oz.

They end up traveling through the Land of Mo and meet the Bumpy Man, to Jinxland where they meet Princess Gloria and Pon, two lovers who aren't in the same class. The Scarecrow comes along, sent by Glinda, to help the travelers maneuver through Jinxland.

The voices on this recording were exceptional. Every character was portrayed by a different person and really gave this a great story feeling.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Dead by James Joyce

This has been touted as one of the best short stories ever written. Upon finishing my Librivox recordings, I think I have to agree.

First of all, download the Librivox version. The person who recorded this story was absolutely phenomenal. He had the Irish brogue to go with the story and was just a fantastic reader.

On to the story: The Dead is part of the Dubliners collection of short stories. This story focuses on Gabriel Conroy and is set at his aunt's annual dance and dinner (around 1904). Gabriel is incredibly self-conscious, fidgety and has a social awkwardness that also causes him to be a bit...abrupt with people. Conroy is asked by his aunts to give a toast at the end of the dinner, in which he tries to make up for some of the "rudeness" that he has shown earlier in the evening. He praises the past and talks about the future generations.

As they are leaving the dinner, he spots his wife, Greta, on the stairs. Since they are staying in a hotel overnight before heading home, Conroy is feeling amorous. He finds later that is wife is melancholy after hearing a song played that evening; The Lass of Aughrim. Conroy soon finds out why that song has made his wife sad and soon has an epiphany of his own. We are all the same in that we all will die.

Excellent story and well worth listening to at Librivox.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I'm a fairly new knitter (almost a year!) and have read some of the Yarn Harlot's blog. I decided to get some of her books from the library to see what's what.

Pearl-McPhee is a pretty funny lady! In this book, she welcomes us to the land of Knitting. We learn how to pack for vacations, the pests associated with knitting, diseases (the dreaded second sock syndrome!), etc. We read about politics (natural yarn vs. acrylics) and etiquette (is it ok to knit in public?)

Right now, I'm knitting my very first sock. Hopefully, I won't contract SSS!

A cute, fun to read book, for new and experienced knitters

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Candy Girl by Diablo Cody

I wonder how many people went back to read Cody's memoir after seeing Juno. Count me as one.

I enjoyed Juno even with all the goofy language use. But I got real tired of cutesy metaphors and literary "jazz 'ems up". Underneath all of that, it was a decent story about about Cody's year as a stripper. What started out as a whim on Amateur Night become an experiment in the, entertainer world.

Cody reccounts the different strippers she meets, the different bars she works at, etc. This was a super quick read and pretty entertaining although her stint at Sex World in the Dollhouse seems a little....disgusting. But hey, that's just me

Friday, August 29, 2008

How to Read by Thomas Foster

The title is a little to long to put in the subject

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster

I thought it would be interesting to get a Professors insight into reading. Being a computer science nerd, I never took literature classes and only took the standard English class that my degree required. Being a huge reader and fan of books, I'm sorry I missed that chance.

Foster is not ha-ha funny but he made this book highly entertaining to read. I read it with a notebook by my side because the amount of literature he throws out as examples was staggering (there's a helpful list in the back of the book). Foster uses classics and modern lit as examples and almost all of them triggered a "I want to read that" reaction.

Each chapter is broken into something to look for in your reading. He covered the range of Christ symbols, Greek, illnesses, heart problems, roads, shared meals, etc. And as he mentions at the end of the book, there's a lot he didn't cover. But what he did do was give you the start on recognizing that a horse isn't just a horse so you can delve deeper on your own.

I normally speed read books but this book encouraged me to slow down and think about what the writer is really trying to show me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This was another Librivox recording. Kudos to Annie Coleman for tackling the entire book by herself, she did a fantastic job!

P&P has always been one of those books I figured I should read, since it's such a classic. But I'm not a romance person nor am I a Victorian type person so I avoided any Jane Austen book like the plague. I figured that I would download it from Librivox and give it a try, and thought, if I don't like it I'll just delete it from my ipod, no big deal.

As it turns out, I loved it. Yes really.

The novel opens with the line "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife".

P&P is centered around the Bennetts. Specifically Elizabeth. The Bennetts have 5 unmarried daughters and, as with the times, the goal of the parents (mostly mom's) is to marry off all the girls. When a rich, unmarried man comes to town, the eldest daughter, Jane, is presented to him. Mr. Bingley and Jane hit it off quite well. However, Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley's friend, Mr. Darcy, don't fair as well. The story continues with a back and forth of the couples, as lovers are broken apart and others are brought together.

I can see why Elizabeth is someone to admire for young girls. She's very much of her own mind and doesn't bend to other people's will very easily, if at all. Mrs. Bennett is something of a twit. Almost every word out of that woman's mouth makes one cringe. Her desperate need to be "wealthy" and have her girls married to the best possible man, whether the girls want it or not, is annoying bordering on deplorable. Although I'm assuming that her attitude went with the times.

It takes almost to the end of the book to find out if Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy will even get together. Mr. Darcy must overcome his Pride of assuming he is above the Bennetts. And Elizabeth must overcome her Prejudice against Mr. Darcy and all the misconceptions she believes about him.

I've already downloaded Sense and Sensibility for my next venture in Austen's world.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

I've been needing some financial savvy for a while now. I've been following in other people's footsteps and those footsteps were not smart ones.

After reading the money makeover book, I'm all jazzed up and ready to be debt-free! Whoot! Ok, I can't get all 'gazelle ready' and whatever else he talks about but I'm still working on the baby steps.

I'm going to admit that I won't be following this plan to the tee. No 2nd job for me. One job and classes pretty much take all my time. But I'm encouraged to get a budget and start snowballing all my credit card debt.

This book was good and inspiring. I know the testimonials are supposed to jazz you too but I mostly skipped all of them. Oh well. I'm still inspired.

This is a good book to read if you have debt of any kind. He makes great points on why you need to be debt free and how to go about it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blind Spot by Terri Persons

It's been awhile since I read a straight mystery and figured that the one I picked up should be good. Blind Spot works on a premise of an FBI agent named Bernadette Saint Clare who has....well, I'm not sure. She's capable of seeing what killers see, apparently as it happens.

While this was a good mystery, the main mystery was the sketchiness of Saint Clare's gift. Not many folks believe her, so she's shuffled to a basement in MN. Her new boss may or may not be behind her with her visions.

She, herself, admits to many problems with the visions. She's pursued the wrong people, taken the wrong path to solve crimes. So I'm confused as to why her character is constantly jumping to conclusions. Just because you see a person in a hospital doesn't make them a doctor. This part of Saint Clare's character just really bugged me.

I see that there is a new book out to continue the characters from Blind Spot. I'll be sure to read it just to see if some of the sketchiness goes away. Saint Clare would be, could be, a really great female lead if the kinks are worked out.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

This is a Librivox recording.

For some reason, I never read this book as a child. It would have been the perfect book for me, way back in the day, too. I used to have an imagination that would rival Anne's but, alas, I work in an accounting firm now. Any whimsy I had has been zapped.

Anne is an orphan who ends up with the Cuthberts, brother and sister who anticipated getting a boy to help them with the farm at Green Gables. Anne grew on the Cuthberts and she ended up staying.

The book travels several years and follows Anne on her imaginative adventures, her mishaps and concludes with her as a teenager and becoming a woman.

Highly recommended!

Free recording.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

I quit buying this series because it felt like I was reading the same book each time. Fearless Fourteen was more of the same but it was a little more fun than usual.

Stephanie gets involved with Dom, who robbed a bank and hid a lot of money. Since he's out of jail, everyone is interested in getting the money. Cut to Stephanie and Morelli suddenly babysitting a teenager, Bob eating Stephanie's underwear, Ranger hiring Steph to be a bodyguard, and Lula jonesing for a wedding...hers.

I actually laughed out loud in several parts (Lula with a jackhammer, for one) and it was an entertaining, quick read.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Snuff by Chuck Palahnuik

Chuck is one of my favorite authors but his last book, Rant, is one I couldn't even finish and have no desire to try and finish. So, once again, the helpful library came to my rescue! Why buy a hardcover if I'm not sure I'll even like it??

I liked it. It's typical Chuck, written in the same voice, using the same gross-out techniques he employs for just about every novel. But Snuff was more compelling and different enough from his previous books to keep me interested.

Snuff is based on a porn star, Cassie Wright, who is determined to set a world record of screwing 600 guys on film. She previously had a baby and gave it up for adoption and is planning, if she dies during the record setting, to give the baby the insurance money to make it set for life.

The main characters who we're giving a crap about are Sheila, the man wrangler and helpful assistant to Cassie. No. 72, the young kid who comes to the set bearing flowers and a secret. No. 600, washed up porn star who starred with Cassie in many films and is trying to make a comeback. And No. 137 (I think, I don't have the book with me, it's this or 127), a seemingly random young man who has a pretty sketchy background and reason for being part of the film.

There were several twists in this book that I expected and figured out, but then Chuck managed to turn all that on it's head (no pun intended).

This was a good Chuck book, although I'd still recommend Fight Club and Invisible Monsters before this.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Drink with Shane Macgowan by Shane Macgowan

I'm a fan of The Pogues and have seen the Shane Macgowan documentary (his laughter is enough to drive you mad). My friend lent me this book to "round out my education".

Shane has probably done every drug known to man and more. This book is laid out as a straight, stream of consciousness interview with his wife. And streaming it is. It was a fun read but somewhat difficult to grasp, as I think only Shane understands what he is thinking.....maybe.

He contradicts himself almost constantly, his stories are pretty entertaining and funny and probably somewhat false and one-sided but eh, we should be happy the guy is still alive.

Definitely for the Pogues fan....

Great quote:

"I believe you can't be fucked. But I believe you can believe you're fucked, and that can be bad because if you think you're fucked then you are fucked. But you're not really fucked."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris

I love this man.

I've listened to his interviews about this book on NPR and The Daily Show and just love this man. I would have rather listened to this book as read by him but that wasn't feasible at the beach. So I took the new hardback (sans dust jacket) every day to the beach and laughed hysterically while people glanced at me in apparent fear.

I'm still shaking sand from the pages.

Sedaris tells us the stories of Hugh, the worm growing out of his leg, Paris and the spiders in his home, and traveling to Japan just to quit smoking. It is pretty bad when all the good hotels go non-smoking and only a semen covered remote jolts him into realizing that maybe he should just stop smoking.

I particularly loved the line about his finding new snacks in Japan that "tasted like penis". Lord. I can't even comprehend that.

Another good book by Sedaris.

Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich

I took this book on vacation simply because it was compact and didn't take up a lot of space. After reading it, I wonder how it could be so small when the writing and language was so large.

"Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are. We are often like rivers: careless and forceful, timid and dangerous, lucid and muddied, eddying, gleaming, still." Whether she's reflecting on nature's teachings, divulging her experiences as a cowpuncher, or painting vivid word portraits of the people she lives and works with, Gretel Ehrlich's observations are lyrical and funny, wise and authentic. After moving from the city to a vast new state, she writes of adjusting to cowboy life, boundless open spaces, and the almost incomprehensible harshness of a Wyoming winter"

Ehrlich moved to Wyoming permanently after her boyfriend passed away and became a helper on a ranch. This book, in incredibly flowing language, describes the Wyoming landscape, the ranches and all that goes on in that entirely alien world.

While I found myself skipping through some of the more descriptive passages, I did enjoy this book and wondered how I missed all this about Wyoming on my travels through that state. Anyone who chooses ranching is obviously made of tougher stuff than I am, since some of the descriptions of the work, such as sheepherding, made my skin crawl. I'm really not an outdoors girl.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Moloka'i turned out to be better than I ever anticipated. I began reading quite a few month's ago, but the library demanded it back before I could finish. Which led to me buying it and not getting back to it immediately. I picked it up last week and started in from the beginning.

Moloka'i is about Rachel, who contracts leprosy while living in Hawaii in the late 1800's. According to the historical part of this historical fiction, the Chinese brought the leprosy bacteria with them when they came to Hawaii. Americans, of course, brought smallpox and mumps. I think that's our standard gift to give to folks. Rachel was only 6 or 7 years old when it's discovered that the lesions on her leg and foot were leprosy. Her Uncle Pono had just been "arrested" and sent away for leprosy as well.

All lepers are treated as criminals. They are forced into isolation, torn away from their families and eventually end up at Moloka'i. The writing in this book was exceptional, the pain of a little girl being forced away from her family was heartbreaking.

Without giving anything away, which is hard to do, the book follows Rachel through the rest of her life at Moloka'i. She has her Uncle Pono there, she makes friends, she marries and has a child.

Leprosy appears to be a disease somewhat like AIDS, in that leprosy doesn't kill people. It weakens the immune system so much that even a common cold is fatal. As the book follows Rachel, it's just staggering the amount of deaths she witnesses, all loved ones. And it's very inspirational in how she handles every death and setback.

Moloka'i was really a fantastic book. Well worth reading.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Right is Wrong - Arianna Huffington

I saw Ms. Huffington interviewed on The Colbert Report and she was wearing an evening gown and speaking in a great Greek accent. I decided I need to read her book.

For Arianna Huffington, the problem with the Republican Party is not that it is at odds with the views of progressives, but that its lunatic fringe has taken over the party and is at odds with the views of the American people. By significant majorities, Americans believe in the science of evolution, don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned, don’t want to ignore global warming, want good health care for their kids, and want to bring our troops home from Iraq.

And yet, to Huffington, the representatives of the Right seem to be competing over who among them can be the biggest Neanderthal and are having the time of their lives supporting torture, standing by the behavior of the Blackwater thugs, and backing the White House’s delusions on everything from war to stem cell research. Flashing back to the Reagan era is one thing, but flashing back to the Dark Ages is quite another. And this is what Right Is Wrong will expose.

I am a Liberal. I have Liberal ideas. Very few of my morals, ethics, ideas are conservative. However, I almost want to say that this book is the lunatic Liberal. Some of the arguments were well documented and well put. Others seem to be taunts that you hear on playgrounds and were completely unnecessary.

I agree with her about the war, highly unnecessary. She did have a lot of documentation backing up her points on how Bush was planning for a war before he was even President. (The Sources section of the book is massive). For the most part, I disagreed almost entirely with the immigration section and the health section. Yes, we have problems with both, but the Democrat solution isn't the best one either, I don't believe.

Politics is a bloody game and this book shows how much of a game it really is.

Obama '08!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane

Another librivox recording.

I've been doing a lot of yard work so my trusty ipod is filled with librivox books. I hate yard work. This is the only way I can get through it.

I'm not a fan of war anything: books,movies, stories. But my friend just finished listening to The Red Badge of Courage and suggested I try it. I'm still not a fan of war books. This one wasn't bad, but the descriptions of the war, of the injuries was really more than I wanted.

The person we're supposed to root for is Henry aka The Youth. I found myself despising this kid. Maybe I'm not surrounded by normal folk, maybe I'm holding people up to loftier ideals but I can't believe that someone would act the way he did. Running away from battle, I can understand. But justifying by claiming he's smarter than everyone else, trying to find ways to be superior to friends, etc. was just something I can't believe a human being would do.

Until I remember that this is a 19 year old boy. This, right here, is my problem with wars. Especially unnecessary ones (like the one we're in now...ahem). They have kids, just KIDS, fighting these battles. Kids who, like Henry, have never seen death before, let alone killed someone or something. We're sending kids off, mentally unprepared, and they face down the possibility of death and see their friends blown to bits and when they come back home, oops, we're done with you. Have a nice post-traumatic stress disorder. This boy wasn't prepared. He was still believing that corpses might get up and come after him.

The ending shooed away some of my dislike of Henry. Thankfully, he redeemed himself. But I'm still upset that that is how kids grew up. Seeing corpses, seeing friends shot to death, shooting other people to death is not how kids should become men.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anthem - Ayn Rand

Another Librivox recording.

This is my first taste, so to speak, of Rand's work. And it was interesting, unnerving and better than I thought.

Official summary:

Anthem is a dystopic science fiction story taking place at some unspecified future date. Mankind has entered another dark age as a result of what Rand saw as the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur, if at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word “I” has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the “socialist/communal” values of equality and brotherhood and the “productive/capitalist” values of achievement and individuality. The story also parallels Stalinist Russia, which was currently going on at the time as the story was published. (Summary from Wikipedia)

This book is written as the diary of Equality 7-2521, a young man who is just one of the hundreds of folks churned out by the new "mankind". No one is an individual, people refer to themselves as "We" since everything they do or think should encompass everyone. People are punished for merely thinking or acting in an individual way. A frightening future that takes an incredible step backwards. No electricity, only candles. No books, unless you are deemed a Scholar. Folks are given their vocation that they will keep for the rest of their lives, provided they live past 40. Once a person hits 40, they are regulated to the home of the useless to die or become an ancient (if you made it to 45).

The reading of Anthem was very good with some unexpected pauses.

Summary of Anthem
Project Gutenberg

It is a sin to write this.  It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see.
It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own.
And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone.
We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!"

Monday, June 2, 2008

Blood Noir - Laurell K Hamilton

I've read every Anita Blake book but have never purchased one. This wasn't an exception. I've honestly been getting a little tired of the porn aspect of this series, and while Blood Noir is steeped in sex, I enjoyed this book better than most.

Blood Noir essentially centers around Anita and Jason, the werewolf. Jason's estranged dad is dying of cancer and he wants to return home before he passes on. Apparently, Jason's dad thinks Jason is gay and Anita comes along to prove otherwise.

Chaos ensues as Jason is mistaken for Keith Summerland, who is wanted by some nasty people. Sex ensues no matter what. And Marmee Noir, the oldest vampire who is catnapping, pays Anita a pretty intense visit at the wrong time.

Like I said, better than the last few Anita Blake books. But she could stand to tone down the porn aspect just a little.

OH! I forgot. Richard is a pussy. I cannot stand that character and the sooner he's killed off, the better.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Club of Queer Trades - GK Chesterton

Another Librivox recording.

The Librivox volunteer was fabulous! The same volunteer did all chapters and was just one of the best I've listened to.

Here's the official summary:

A collection of six wonderfully quirky detective stories, featuring the ‘mystic’ former judge Basil Grant. Each story reveals a practitioner of an entirely new profession, and member of the Club of Queer Trades. (Summary by David Barnes)

The book starts off with the tremendous adventures of Major Brown that leads us to the first queer trade. Each chapter thereafter is a little story on it's own, detailing another queer trade.

The club of queer trades itself is an exclusive club where the members must have their own trade that is unusual and has not been thought of before. Also, they must make their living at this trade in order to join the club.

I listened to this while driving and doing chores. I loved it!

Librivox recording
Gutenberg Text

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Undead - Kim Harrison

This is the 2nd in the series for Rachel Morgan, witch-bounty hunter-badass. I enjoyed this book much better than the first, as the characters were more fleshed out and the story was pretty intense.

Someone is killing ley line witches and Rachel is asked by the FIB to help figure out who. Her investigations lead her to Trent. Trent may be a terrible person but is he a witch serial killer? Or is he a person? Surprisingly Trent's "identity" is revealed in this book and I never would have thought it.

Rachel comes up against Piscary, the pizza master vamp. Ivy is back and ends up on the side of good...or evil? And Jenks is still around although his part seems to be a little bit less. Still love him though.

Good second book. Can't wait to get the third!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Odd Hours - Dean Koontz

I always look forward to the Odd Thomas books, the first one just blew me away. The ones thereafter, not so much.

Odd Hours is a pretty decent book, although not as emotional as the first one. I don't want to give away any major plot lines so I'll be all nice and vague. Odd Thomas was drawn to Magic Beach after living in the monastery (Brother Odd). Elvis is gone, Frank Sinatra is with him. And Boo, the ghost dog, is still by his side. Odd has taken a job as a cook for an old actor living on the beach. Odd has dreams, he meets a woman, he's chased by maniac killers. He needs to save the world!

Memories of Stormy are pretty prevalent through the book and several times my eyes teared up. This was a pretty good book, not as good as the first book, although I thought it was a little bit slow in the beginning. Once it picked up, the book was pretty hard to put down. The ending was....unresolved. So now I have the next Odd Thomas book to look forward to!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In An Instant - Lee Woodruff

My knitting teacher lent me this book and I just got around to reading it. It's about Bob Woodruff, an ABC anchor, who was embedded with the military in Iraq during the war in 2006. He and his cameraman were riding in a tank when an IED exploded next to them. The main IED ammunition was rocks. Woodruff ended up having rocks blasted through his skull, his face and back.

This book is the Woodruff's story about Bob's recovery from such traumatic brain injury. The book flashbacks quite a bit into their past, how they met, how Bob became a journalist, etc. Lee and Bob are obviously a couple meant to be, it's evident in their writing how much they mean to each other.

We get mostly Lee's side of the story, seeing how she wasn't the one in a coma for 5 weeks. Strangely or not, I give her quite a bit of props simply for how she handled her husband being blown up, 4 children and worldwide attention.

I'm not one for biographies, but this one was really pretty good. A little too flashbacky for me but overall a good story.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Phantom Prey - John Sandford

I'm completely addicted to the Prey series. The last one slightly disappointed me so I was tempted to not buy the hardback to this one.

But I did.

And it was great! This involves Lucas Davenport, as per usual, working a couple of cases. The cases for this round involve the death of a "Goth" girl and a mobster type person.

Weather is friends with the Goth girl's mother, who implores Lucas to take the case. He does, out of kindness and the promise of kinky sex with Weather. While he's working the case, someone's coming up behind him killing other Goths. Is it the same person or the work of another?

The next case is going on at the same time as the Goth murder. Siggy is a mobster type fellow and Lucas and co. are running surveillance on his woman. And getting a good show. I really did like how this case ended. Surprise!

All in all, a very good Prey book.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unaccustomed Earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

I've fallen in love with Lahiri's writing. She's one of the few authors I elect not to speed read simply because her writing demands your complete attention.

Unaccustomed Earth is her new book of short stories. It starts out with the title story of an Indian woman being visited by her elderly father. Larhiri wrote this story from both the woman and the father's perspective. Not an easy feat, I would imagine. This story left me with a little "Aw."

Hell-Heaven arrives to introduce us to an Indian family who befriends an Indian man alone in the US.

Choice of Accommodations was next. A story about a couple trying to make an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway without the kids. Another little "Aw."

Only Goodness was the story that made me put the book down and just sigh. This one hit a little to close to home, with a sibling dealing with another siblings alcoholism. I'm fiercely against giving up on people and cutting them out of my life and this story ... well, it just made me cry.

The last 3 stories contain the same 2 characters and, by the last story, just completely broke my heart.

Thanks Jhumpa, for making me sad and teary. And for writing so damn well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Golden Age - Kenneth Grahame

This was a LibriVox recording.

That phrase is now drilled into my head. But that's ok, because The Golden Age was one of the better read stories I've heard on LibriVox. This book is also available at Project Gutenberg.

The Golden Age was published in 1895 and is a novel that is divided up into short stories. The stories as a whole tell about the childhood of 3 boys and 2 girls. The children refer to the adults as Olympians and believe that the adults no longer know how to have fun. The chapters are each short stories detailing adventures the children take and/or imagine taking.

This was an excellent book that didn't "feel" like it was written so long ago.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dry - Augusten Burroughs

I read Running With Scissors awhile ago and loved it, but felt bad about loving it. Burroughs is a very comedic man, his timing and writing are very spot-on. However, the subjects that he writes about, his life, are just so depressing that you laugh... but then feel bad.

Dry is his memoir about being an alcoholic, getting sober and struggling with whether to jump back off the wagon or not. It also intertwines his friends into his story and shows their struggles with various vices as well. This sounds serious and, for the most part, it is. But Burroughs injects quite a bit of humor into the writing, as per normal.

One of the things I've read about Burroughs, and he mentions briefly in this book, is that he has kept detailed journals over his life. So what you are reading is pulled from those journals and you really don't need to worry about another James Frey. (Although the Running With Scissors family apparently disputes this)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Small Favor - Jim Butcher

"No one's tried to kill Harry Dresden for almost an entire year, and his life finally seems to be calming down. For once, the future looks fairly bright. But the past casts one hell of a long shadow.

An old bargain has placed Harry in debt to Mab, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, the Queen of Air and Darkness-and she's calling in her marker. It's a small favor he can't that will trap Harry Dresden between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and one that will strain his skills-and loyalties-to their very limits.

It figures. Everything was going too well to last.."

Thankfully I was first in line at the library when this came out. I sped through it in about 3 days (darn homework - kept me from reading!). Small Favor is one of the best Dresden books I've read, I think. Very fast paced, full of action and suspense.

It's hard to review without giving away some pivotal twists so I'll just say that Mab calls in a favor. Gentlemen Johnny Marcone has been kidnapped and she wants him back. The Fallen are back in the game, as well as The Archive and Kincaid. The new characters are The Gruffs (as in Billy Goat....yeah, Harry is attacked by a fairytale) as sent by Summer to kill Harry.

The one good twist? Harry *might* be getting some :) Poor guy, it's about time.

My main concern towards the end is the safety of some of the main characters. I'm actually worried that one won't make it back to the next novel. The last fight against the Fallen to save The Archive and Marcone was a brutal one, possibly one of the most brutal fights that Harry and co. has been in.

Excellent book in the series!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kill the Messenger - Tami Hoag

I haven't read any Tami Hoag in a while so I jumped back in with this one. I made a good choice! Kill the Messenger is about some shady dealings, a little blackmail, a little murder, and a bike messenger who happened to be delivering a package at the wrong time and place.

The characters were really fleshed out well and ended up being characters that you cared about - at least ones that you wanted to see what happened to.

It's near impossible to not give away anything but I can say that the twist towards the end was a big surprise. Maybe I missed all the subtle clues but I don't think so. The actual end (the aftermath) was pretty hokey, I thought, and we could have lived without it.

Very good mystery!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Seven Days to Sex Appeal - Eva Margolies & Stan Jones

What a different read after No Country for Old Men. I received this book from the Early Reviewers group at LibraryThing. Even though I won't read Cosmo or Glamour or any of those magazines, I thought it would be fun to give this a shot. Just to see if the advice given to women was ... better.

First, the pages alternate different graphic and/or animals prints and makes it very difficult to read. Second, while I do know some women who would love this book and take it to heart, it just isn't me. The book says that men like women who take up little space, are delicate and appear vulnerable. It goes on to describe different techniques to achieve all of those things, including how to sit, how to "self-caress", how to appear to need the man's help. Let's not forget pursing your lips, batting your eyelashes, how to stand with your pelvis out and how to do the runway and parade walks.

As I was reading this, I quizzed a few guy friends on these techniques and their responses. It ranged from "Oh yeah, that would be hot" to "I think that would scare me away" to "I just want a woman who isn't crazy, ok?"

Interesting results.

The only part of the book that I found helpful is the end, about sex appeal at work. It did give some good advice on how to "act" at work to get the attention you want. Which, honestly, as a woman in a male-dominated career, I can use.

Feminism will be fully embraced when all women can dress, act, talk, and just be how they want without ridicule or criticism from anyone, especially from other women. We really are our own worst judges. I know women who love the hunt for men, they love the chase, they love dating. This book would be great for them. For me, however, it's just not right. I don't hunt, chase or love the thrill of dating 10 guys at once.

So kudos to those gals, go get this book (you can take my copy). I'll be the chick in the corner reading Bukowski and probably sending all the wrong kinds of signals.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

This book is basically: No Country for Old Men tells the story of a drug deal gone wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama, as three men crisscross each other's paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas.

I've had the movie for about a week and felt that I really needed to read the book first. Luckily, my friend had it and loaned it to me.

I've read The Road and was dumbfounded by the bleakness of it. No Country for Old Men dumbfounds me with the violence. Admittedly, the very first chapter made me a little ill, but I kept going because, ill or not, I was sucked in.

One thing about this book: I normally read straight through, meaning I don't go back and re-read bits and pieces. The only books I've ever kept going back to re-read chapters was Middlesex and The Road. And now this. I was constantly going backwards to re-read. It was very very well-written and so full of meaning, that I had to go back to appreciate what I had just read!

There are really only 3 real characters in this book: Moss, Bell and Chigurh. Bell is the sheriff of a small Texan town. Moss is the man who finds bodies and money in the desert and decides to take the money but leave the bodies. Chigurh is just evil incarnate. And he wants the money. Personally, while other characters are mentioned and mostly fleshed out, they don't matter. It all boiled down to Moss, running for his life, being chased by Chigurh, who in turn is being tracked down by Bell.

I don't want to give anything away about the outcomes of the 3 characters so, generically, I'll say:

The amount of evil is frightening. The amount of evil contained in Chigurh makes me desperately hope that no one in real life is like this (although I know there are).

The calmness and tenacity of Bell was admirable. Until you get his backstory and then, you understand where he was coming from but wonder how admirable he really is.

Moss. Dammit man, why did you take the money???

At one point, I was angry enough with the turn of events to put the book down for the night and not get back to it til the next day. As in life, this isn't a pretty ending. It's not wrapped up neatly with a bow. Really, it's not wrapped up at all.

I'm still angry with the outcome but then, that's when you know the book is pretty dang good, isn't it? When it ignites you for days after you've put it down.

Can't wait to see the movie now :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Life With Corpses - Wylene Dunbar

I read this in 2006 and recently found my review that I had written right after I finished reading it:

my book is goood. i explained the theory of the book to james today and he seem pretty interested in it. y'all know i'm reading my life with corpses, right? the theory goes like this:

people die, every day, and they still live. in fictional theory, you have a corpse inside you and it's waiting to come out. people are walking around you all the time but they've already died. Literally, they have died and become corpses, however only the narrator sees them for what they are. But they still function, still living the life they know, they don't usually know they are dead.

the narrator is "dying" ie. seeing her corpse more prominently then before (i've had too much to drink and I still like big words!!). the only way to push your corpse back is to live. metaphorically, it's excellent. how many people do you know who have mentally died but their bodies keep functioning?? if you go about your daily life without passion, are you dead?

it's really a great book and has so many good passages (which i share below). But, as we've already established, i am interested in death and the way people handle it, so this book may not be for everyone. death is obviously a big part of the plot.

"Good. This evening I need a god." (i would just like a god that i could believe in not to tear me apart for fun and games.)

"..of course, it was easy to be "faithful" when your definition excluded one-night stands and anything done out of town."

"..that when we harm another on purpose, the execution of our intent can form a vector from us to the other, forcing a part of our life down its line to be destroyed as well." (that kills any chance of revenge...)

"I no longer needed what he had once been willing to give me. I had unexpected new nourishment for the fragment of life that had survived." (for people trying to suck the life out of you. some part of you can still hang on and fight.)

"My thinking was this: if I simply turn around and walk back, and if I do that every time I come to the brink, won't that save me?" (that's my theory as well. so far, i've been able to turn around and walk back.)

"When walking blind you might, for instance, come to a brink already occupied by another and that other might be waiting there with no better purpose than to throw you off." (oh yes. i know people like this. they are "dying" and willing to sacrifice you to save themselves.)

"There are those who never get enough [life] no matter how much they use up and, so, they grab and take life without reciprocation - the stealers.."

"..but it seems that regardless of where we go, we are, as far as cause and effect are concerned, all in exactly the same spot."

"We need other people to live and, yet, they might well be killing us, all at the very same time."

"We are all carrying our corpses with us, ready for the memorial service."

death isn't a morose topic if you approach it right.

half a bottle of wine later and i feel the need for a bubble bath.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poetry as Insurgent Art - Ferlinghetti

My friend got me this for my birthday or Christmas. They're so close together it probably doesn't matter which. Unfortunately, after I started reading this, I lost it. It's the size of my hand and it was pretty easy to misplace. I found it last night in a fit of cleaning and finished reading it.

"From the groundbreaking (and betselling) A Coney Island of the Mind in 1958 to the "personal epic" of Americus, Book I in 2003, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has, in more than thirty books, been the poetic conscience of America. Now in Poetry As Insurgent Art, he offers, in prose, his primer of what poetry is, could be, should be. The result is by turns tender and furious, personal and political. If you are a reader of poetry, find out what is missing from the usual fare you are served; if you are a poet, read at your own risk—you will never again look at your role in the same way."

I enjoyed this book although it was radically different than what I normally read. There were several statements I ended up underlining because they were that good.

"Question everything and everyone, including Socrates, who questioned everything. Question "God" and his buddies on earth."

It's a different book that really encourages you (even if you're not a poet) to go out and let your voice be heard, change the world and how people think.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The IBS Healing Plan - Theresa Cheung

I scored this ARC from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer group. And I'm very pleased that I did.

IBS is just one of the many digestive problems I have and, while I've been fairly successful in keeping the symptoms under control, I haven't seen a book that was dedicated to natural ways of subduing IBS. This book covers a lot of ground including what foods to eat, supplements to take (vitamins/minerals/herbs), alternative therapies (massage, acupuncture, etc) and stress management.

Although this book goes the natural route, the author repeatedly asks the patient to work with their doctor and not to go off trying herbs and such willy nilly.

I especially liked the A-Z symptom guide with hints on how to help your specific IBS symptoms...because there are quite a few of them.

All in all, this was an informative book and, as a 12 year veteran of IBS, I even learned a few things.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

I was listening to B&N's Meet the Writers podcasts and Kim Harrison was interviewed. Never heard of her before so I figured I'd give it a listen.

Now I'm a huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. Anything supernatural where the characters are, for lack of a better word, human. Funny and flawed. The more I listened to Kim talking about Rachel Morgan, the happier I got.

Rachel is a witch. Her friends include a pixie named Jenks and a vampire named Ivy. In their world, there is a place called the Hollows where all 3 live in a church. The rest of the supernatural beings also live and work there. Supernaturals live among the humans because of a bioengineered tomato that wiped out a lot of the human race. Does this all make sense? I'm still sorting it out. I think I keep mixing up Anita's world with Harry's world now with Rachel's world.

Rachel quits her job at the IS and suddenly has a death threat on her head from her company (how awful would that be if that happened in real life?? ick). This novel races through with Rachel as she tries to avoid all the assassins and get her death threat removed. Encounters with demons, vampires, fairies and weres are heavy throughout the book. It really does race along .. honest.

I will definitely be reading the remaining books in the series. Jenks has to be my new favorite character.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich

Amazon Synopsis:
In bestseller Evanovich's breezy third holiday novella (after Plum Lovin'), Stephanie Plum's kooky Grandma Mazur finds a duffle full of money on the street and hightails it to Atlantic City. When Stephanie learns that the money was stolen from Delvina, a notorious Trenton mobster, she and her friend Lula head off in pursuit. In Atlantic City, the Jersey bounty hunter discovers she's not the only one after Grandma after meeting Snuggy, an ex-jockey who originally stole the money and is convinced he's a leprechaun. With her on-again off-again boyfriend Morelli tied up with a murder case and the sexy Ranger otherwise occupied, Stephanie turns to the mysterious Diesel for help. As she tries to keep Grandma safe and fend off the advances of Diesel amid the slot machines and craps tables, Stephanie realizes she may be in over her head. With her trademark wit, cast of eccentric side characters and hilariously absurd plot twists, Evanovich treats her fans to a delightful miniadventure sure to whet their appetites for the next full-length Plum escapade.

My Thoughts:
Only a couple of laugh out loud moments with this book. It seems Ms. Evanovich is trying to aim for holidays as well as numbers (between-the-numbers!). I'm beginning to wish she'd stick to the numbers.

Anywho, this is about Stephanie, Grandma and Lula getting into trouble with a leprechaun and a horse. Chaos commences.

The Road from Coorain - Jill Ker Conway

Amazon Synopsis:
At age 11, Conway ( Women Reformers and American Culture ) left the arduous life on her family's sheep farm in the Australian outback for school in war-time Sydney, burdened by an emotionally dependent, recently widowed mother. A lively curiosity and penetrating intellect illuminate this unusually objective account of the author's progress from a solitary childhood--the most appealing part of the narrative--to public achievement as president of Smith College and now professor at MIT. Gifted with an ability to adapt to a wide range of cultures and people and despite ingrained Australian prejudice against intellectuals, Conway devoted herself to the study of history and literature, spurred on by excellent British-style schooling. Her further adventures could easily make a rewarding second volume.

My Thoughts:
This was a Bookmooch grab and I read this because my g'ma was also from Australia and came to America around WWII.

This book didn't focus as much on Oz as I thought although the descriptions of the Outback area and their farm were very good. I was able to picture it very well.

Towards the end, when the author was in Sydney and in school, I thought it dragged a bit. But was still a decent read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Australian life.

The Appeal - John Grisham

B&N Synopsis:
Politics has always been a dirty game.
Now justice is, too.
In a crowded courtroom in Mississipi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town’s water supply, causing the worst “cancer cluster” in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it.
Who are the nine? How will they vote? Can one be replaced before the case is ultimately decided?
The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court. The cost is a few million dollars, a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Mr. Trudeau. Through an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit, his political operatives recruit a young, unsuspecting candidate. They finance him, manipulate him, market him, and mold him into a potential Supreme Court justice. Their Supreme Court justice.
The Appeal is a powerful, timely, and shocking story of political and legal intrigue, a story that will leave readers unable to think about our electoral process or judicial system in quite the same way ever again.

My Thoughts:

Aggggh! What's happened to me? I used to love reading Grisham's legal thrillers. I admit to speeding through this one pretty quick. The plot, "bought" elections, is pretty interesting especially in the year of the Presidential election. When campaigns get millions and millions of dollars, you do wonder where it goes.

I didn't think the characters were fleshed out very well. I didn't find any of them really likable or endearing.

The ending was a bit of a twist. So I'll give him that.

The Sweet Far Thing - Libba Bray

From Amazon:
IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

My Thoughts:

The 3rd and final book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy. It's been so long since I read Rebel Angels that I'd forgotten what was going on. I quickly remembered and sped through this book.

This is part of a Young Adult series but it well worth the reading. The first book in the series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, was the book of the month of a book club I went to (once - long story). It's a very intriguing series from the get-go.

The Sweet Far Thing was a nice, clean wrap up, although sad in some spots. I'll admit to a few tears. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Obedience - Will Lavender

Synopsis from A complex conspiracy involving the writing of a book drives Lavender's compelling debut, a thriller that will strike some as a mix of John Fowles's The Magus and Stephen King's The Shining. At Indiana's Winchester University, three students—Brian House, Dennis Flaherty and Mary Butler—are taking Logic and Reasoning 204, taught by enigmatic Professor Williams. They quickly learn this is a course like no other. Their single assignment is to find a missing 18-year-old girl, Polly, in six weeks time—or else, Williams asserts, she will be murdered. Is this merely an academic exercise? As Williams produces clues, including photographs of Polly and her associates, the students begin to wonder where homework ends and actual homicide begins. Together with Brian and Dennis, Mary ventures off campus in search of Polly into a world of crumbling towns, decrepit trailers and hints at crimes old and new. A rapid-fire plot offsets thin characterization, though the conspiracy becomes so all-encompassing, so elaborate, that readers may feel a bit like Mary when baffled by her quest: This is what she felt like: led, played, not in control of anything she did.

My Thoughts:

I read a review about this one on Bookgasm and it sounded interesting. The plot sounded like something I've never heard of and I was ready for a new type of mystery! I'm finished with it and not entirely sure I liked it. There were some big holes in the plot and this book really needed a better editor.

For a first book, I'll give him props. It was a good plot and story. It just needed a little bit of help.