Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Half Way Mark..

The year's half over..
Didn't summer just start?
Where has all the time gone..sigh.
Not that anyone cares, but I like to take stock occasionally, either to feel good about, or worse about how much time I've been reading instead of cleaning my house..
Book totals so far this year:
35 finished - including:
2 Young Adult
12 Non-fiction
5 are what I might call Romances which means, there may have been kissing..or other stuff..
6 Classics
1 book of Poetry by TS Elliot
1 Play by Tom Stoppard
1 Oprah Book Club pick , yesss, surprise, surprise..
And everything else would probably fall somewhere in with popular fiction, or where ever the wind was blowing me at the time.
My favorite so far?
Regular fiction - probably The Princess Bride. Hands down just as entertaining as the movie.
Nonfiction - I really enjoyed learning about Mary Todd Lincoln. She was a fascinating woman way ahead of her time. A fulfilling yet terribly sad life.
I'm in the middle of -
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - totally loving this, dirty fingernails and all.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (for bookclub)
Women and Authority: Re-emerging Mormon Feminism edited by Maxine Hanks. I'm reading this essay by essay over the summer
After these -
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin
Because my life isn't complicated enough. Apparently..
Anybody else want to share their favorites so far this year, please feel free. If not, then please go outside and soak up that stinking sun while it lasts! And turn the computer off for crying out loud!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Ah, those hazy summer days. Sitting on my porch rocking chair with my bare foot dangling lazily over the arm rest whilst I rest peacefully over the other one. So relaxed my eyelids hover within centimeters of each other..


If only that were true. More likely scenario, I'm grabbing a few pages here and there while stuffing my face with Doritos and rubbing the skin off my sunburned nose while absentmindedly sort of watching my kids play/pretend not to drown in the neighborhood pool.

But alas, sigh, it's still the perfect time to read me some Heyer. The funniest one I've read of her's so far, this one did not disappoint. Taking place when England was at war with the soon to be United States, all the classic Heyer is included - kidnapping, mistaken identity, more kissing than usual, her favorite word, odious, among others - she has the knack for entering just the right word at just the right time. My heart swooned as always at her dashing, unaffected hero, and I laughed out loud more than once at a group of bumbling goofballs who in the end are at least as funny as Bottom and his acting troupe from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and that's saying something..

Yet again, I can't help but wonder: why aren't any of her books made into movies??

I'd be first in line if they were.
A great romantic comedy to read while on those cement beach sides. Just make sure a lifeguard is present lest you get distracted by those throbbing loins...

4 stars

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann

After reading this, I've learned something about myself...I love reading about other people's problems, especially famous, super rich people. I lap it up like a dog attached to a soup bone. I don't want to know what that says about me..

Some suspicions that were confirmed by this book:

- Bill Clinton is just as gross as I assumed he was. Smart, but ew. Ew. Eeewwww!

- Hillary swears like a f%$#^&king sailor. You rock,#^^$&#@*&, Hillary! And surprise, surprise, she may actually love her husband! Go figure!

- McCain had an affair in the 90's with someone my age.. gosh. Can you imagine? Probably you shouldn't. That gag reflex is a hard one to control.

- Biden didn't get along too well during the campaign. Really?? By the way, where is Joe Biden? Sounds like a book name doesn't it. Has anyone seen Joe Biden on the news lately? What, he fall of the face of the Earth?

- My biggest surprise of the book?? I actually came off feeling slightly bad for Sarah Palin.. Yes, I know, I'm currently clutching my chest and breathing heavily at the thought of it.

Ah, you poor, poor multi-millionaires. Life would be rough without you for entertainment. As for me, I'd rather have my feet scraped than run for office...(And I'll mail you a pretend dollar if you know from what movie that last line is from...except you Suzette..)
A must read for any political junkie..
4 stars.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson

If the fact that our sun will probably burn out in 4 billion years and our beloved Earth will turn into a huge ball of black rock because of it (until it's vaporized that is) bothers you, keeps you up in the night, this book might not be for you. If you're worried about an asteroid hitting somewhere between Hawaii and California in 2039 and Idaho becoming ocean front property (hmm, maybe an improvement?), then this book might not be for you. If you're worried about what might happen to you if you inadvertently get a little, tinsy bit too close to a black hole of death (even your atoms get pulled apart), I might not read this book.

Because, if you thought your ulcer was healing and you could eat salsa with your chips. Think again! A collection of essays about a myriad of cosmic topics from Natural History magazine written by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (you've probably seen him on PBS, and no he's not the night sky guy with the weird voice), this book entertains. Frightens. Enlightens! And inevitably makes you feel much, much smarter for reading it. But believe me, sometimes this knowledge is a scary, scary thing! In fact, now I'd like to take some of it back. Oh, brain atrophy!

Except for a few about half way through that made my eyes start to glaze over, I found most of these essays really interesting and readable. Tyson is obviously one of those well known science professionals who is actually interested in, and good at, teaching (believe it or not!) instead of just doing research and publishing. So yes, they do exist..

Way, oh way back in the dark ages when I was in college I took a series of physics classes from an astronaut named Don Lind. He was a cocky ass who said stuff like, if you ever get a chance to fly in space.. . I wanted to slap him...anyway, I remember learning about prisms and color and how our brain interprets it, and thinking that was the coolest thing! I remember telling my twelve year old sister about it, about how a prism works and why we are able to see that myriad of colors without moving our eyes (look it up, it's really cool!). She looked at me like I was a martian from outer space who'd just landed and interrupted an episode of Get Smart, and made fun of me for years because of it.

Well, neiner neiner. Now I feel vindicated.
Sort of..
Crap, she's probably still making fun of me.
Oh well..
4 stars

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Abigail Adams: A Life by Woody Holton

Abigail Adams.
Doctor, therapist, teacher, entrepreneur, politician, mother, and wife, in no particular order at any particular time.
She was everything.
She was nothing.
And she knew it.

And it made me a bit sad for one main reason: in this age of the crappily short emails, texts, whatever, I thought of the lost art of letter writing. I learned an immense amount of really interesting, meaty stuff about the revolution and the people in it, specifically the women and their take on this war that affected them profoundly, because Abigail Adams was a fantastic, carefully opinionated letter writer.

If she hadn't been married to that great politician John Adams, if he hadn't been away from home as much as he was (and that was a lot, up to five years at a time - like half their married life), we wouldn't have this treasure trove of information. And it was really, really cool.

This is a good book, especially the second half when the war really picks up, how she deals with her children and family life, the rivalry between Adams and Jefferson, presidential life for wife and husband. Speaking of Mr. Adams, she rarely agreed with him. She was so feisty and opinionated for her time. An American Revolutionary heroine, a rambunctious feminist icon. The bread and butter of women's history.
4 stars