Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Tudors - The Good Queen, The Ugly Queen, and the Stupid, Stupid Queen. Season 3

It's the 1500's in Tudor England. The King's wives keep dying, either from a broken heart, by losing a head or for giving their all while finally birthing the King a son. What's a poor grieving King to do? Marry a mysterious German princess of course, Anne of Cleves who happens to have a nose as long as the Empire State Building, poor girl. At least she had the sense to except his divorce and continue to live rather richly and quiet-like in England. Katherine Howard however, well, she just seems doomed to follow in her cousin's footsteps, or is it just me??

Season 3 of this series did not disappoint. As far as I can tell in my limited knowledge, they are following the actual story very well. You just can't write this stuff! It's unbelievable what happened back then, over 400 years ago. My only qualm of course, is King Henry's size. He was in fact quite hefty by his forties, and probably wasn't even close to the lion they portray him in the bedroom. But this is Showtime after all, not the History Channel.

Still though, very interesting to see it all played out on the screen. Aside from Cromwell's death however, which is horrible to read about, let alone see on tv. It's fun to see these people and times brought to vivid life. The next season will be the last. I wish they'd continue on into Queen Mary's and eventually Queen Elizabeth's life, both of whom were equally if not more interesting than their famous father.

But oh well, I'll take what I can get I guess.
I highly recommend this series if you like early English history at all.

Super Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

I should've known I wouldn't really like this book after I read the first line on the cover written all in caps:

Blah, blahblahblah, b-blah.

At least in this one I wasn't forced to read as a header to every chapter how ridiculously full of himself and his multiple accomplishments Steven Levitt is, Mr. "I was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to the most influential economist in the history of the universe under the ripe old age of forty". And I'm personally over forty by the way, and that-is-not-young-by-any-standard. Hell, if you're a man you're already past middle age by that time. Practically on death's door for crying out loud. Get over yourself already man.

Their desire for the almighty dollar and their own ideas on politics came shining through throughout most of the book. I thought I'd be reading an unbiased account of the "facts". Apparently they didn't even check those. Isn't that what economists are supposed to do? Get to the very bottom of an issue. To the truth? After all, do numbers and statistics lie? I guess I was expecting more than bathroom reading material from this one.

Double ew-ew!

I did learn something though, economists are like emergency room doctors - they think they know everything about everything. I bet people are just lining up to talk to them at parties.

Or running in the other direction.

After reading this, it's not hard for me to guess which I'd do. But you decide for yourself. I'm just a regular old American who will continue to recycle and use her carseats regardless of what their "facts" say.

But then again, I haven't won any awards other than The Most Mischievous at girls camp.
2 stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remarkable Creatures - Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species by Sean B. Carroll

The first part of this review is Stephanie's because her computer is broken and I stole this from Goodreads without asking her, because that's the sort of person I am..

The excellent Stephanie said..
Science has a reputation for being boring. I’ve made the acquaintance of many a science textbook in my time, and I can say that, in spite of my love for science, that reputation is not unwarranted. Textbook writers could stand to learn a thing or two from Sean B. Carroll, author of Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species.

In Remarkable Creatures, Carroll tells the stories of many of the men and women that have made great discoveries in the field of evolutionary science. It turns out that these scientists are not the stodgy, grey-haired stereotypes that we’d expect. Henry Wallace Bates lived 11 years alone in the Amazon. Alfred Wallace spent 10 days in a leaky lifeboat after his ship burned and sank. Paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews may be the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones, right down to his fear of snakes and his ever-present pistol.

Their stories are fascinating, and while I read them, I couldn’t help but learn an awful lot about evolution. Perhaps if science was presented with a little more personality, more people would be interested in studying the sciences, or (if the threat of inhospitable environments and tropical diseases are just too daunting) at least reading about them.

The last two chapters leave the field behind and dwell almost exclusively in the laboratory where the science can get a little intense (I had to read those chapters very slowly and more than once), but otherwise, I think this is a book that almost anyone would enjoy.* *

Unless you aren’t a fan of evolution, but I probably didn’t need to say that, did I?

And Lula added...
Sooo.....we did evolve from apes. I knew it! That explains so many things, all the hair in unusual places, the urge to groom my husband, why my youngest hangs on me like a monkey. Carroll includes a quote on the last page of this book, talk is cheap, exploration and discovery is hard. Boy, oh boy is that true! Some people are just born to find stuff. Some people are just pre-made to tackle decades of dealing with sunburns, throwing up, fire ant bites, fevers, sea-sickness, more throwing up, starvation, bitter cold, gale force winds, spear-holding natives, being buried in sandstorms, and sore bums from riding donkeys. But I don't know, being the first to set foot in unexplored wilderness, places no humans have tread in thousands of years, if at all, may make it worth it. Just maybe...

A great group of mostly men (and a few briefly mentioned women - Mary Leakey), some tiny men (Darwin), some Indiana Jones types (Roy Chapman Andrews), and some nerdy, but cute multiple Nobel Prize winning scientists (Linus Pauling) are included along with several others in this book. I learned a lot of things I didn't know about some the greatest explorers of the last centuries. What trials they went through to make their discoveries. What great determination!

After reading this I felt a great urge to marry a determined explorer and let him take all the credit for my discoveries, or maybe take up rock collecting again, or visit the nearest fossil beds, as I live in Idaho and there are a lot of past tense creatures buried around here, not including our current state political leaders....


Read this book if you are the least bit interested in science, you've always wanted to discover something new, and if you've ever in your life hit a rock with a hammer with hopes of finding a diamond inside.

Just be sure to wear protective glasses if you do that.
Trust me I know.
4 stars.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I feel all giddy...

We'll looky here...we have 30 followers!
I'm feeling all sheepish, and guilty.
Maybe we need to actually post something once in awhile...
Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 1, 2010

What are you reading Mondays....and good riddance January!

I haven't done this in a while, but January is f-i-n-a-l-l-y over and I read a lot this month - take that you sunless, gloomy, depressing sky. I've read some fun books recently to release me from my doldrums. Check out J Kaye's book blog to see what other's are reading too!

I just finished -
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Chocolat by Joanne Harris

All these took my mind off my extremely white skin!

And I'm just finishing up this week -

Rough Stone Rolling - A Cultural Biography of Mormonism's Founder Joseph Smith by Richard Lyman Bushman
This book is over 500 non-footnote pages of deep, dense material on the early Mormon church and its first prophet. Very interesting that's for sure.

Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler
Short and sweet. I really love the cover of this one.

And Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I finally got this one from the library. Whew! Collins has a way of hooking her reader from the beginning. I hear there's a cliffhanger at the end though. Drat...

So good bye January. I will not miss you even though reading brought me through the solitude of your gray skies.

Happy February 1st!
Fun things to do this month:

Light candles all over your home on Candlemas Day, Feb. 2.

Watch the movie Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 as well!

Invite your friends over for a Valentine's day tea party.

Read as much Georgette Heyer as you can.

Make a batch of fudge or heart-shaped suckers.

Rent Out of Africa and watch it while eating the fudge.

Wear read lipstick at least once - out in public even!

What are you going to read to ring in February?