Friday, December 21, 2007
I hope your holidays are happy, and you find some time to relax with a good book!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
"I knew nothing about Iraq and the politics of war. But what I did know was that in all human hostilities animals have suffered horrifically and often anonymously. Unable to flee or defend themselves, they either were slaughtered wholesale in the initial assaults or died agonizingly from thirst and hunger later, locked and desperate in their cages. Or worse, they were callously shot by blood-crazed soldiers just for the hell of it."
So, Anthony decides to go to Iraq to help save whatever is left of the zoo's animals. Shortly after Baghdad was invaded, Anthony flies to Kuwait and begins badgering anyone who will listen, until they let him into Iraq. After a very dangerous journey, he finally arrives at the zoo and discovers appalling conditions. Only the animals that were too dangerous to steal (such as the bears, lions and tigers) were left. Because of the horrible looting, most of the animals had been taken, either for food or for sale on the black market. The animals were in worse condition than Anthony expected and he actually considered whether shooting them would be the most humane option. Working in an extremely dangerous environment, battling relentless looters, with little help and very little supplies, medicine, food and water, Anthony begins the slow and difficult task of nursing the animals back to health and saving the zoo. What impressed me was the help Anthony received from the American soldiers. One might think that when a soldier is in the middle of a war, with bombs and bullets a constant threat, he might be more concerned with staying alive than with helping a few animals. But this was not the case. All the soldiers that Anthony encountered were more than willing to help whenever they could. They gave the animals their shares of MREs, got a generator for the zoo, provided protection and help when Anthony shut down a private zoo holding animals in appalling conditions, and helped to recover some of Saddam's herd of priceless Arabian horses from a very dangerous neighborhood.
Although it seems odd to be using the words "great story" when talking about the Iraq war, this really was. Without focusing on politics and whether the war is right or wrong, Anthony takes us into the heart of Iraq, shows us the everyday realities of war, and how the bravery and compassion of a few good men can create hope.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The Tales of Beedle and the Bard, a limited edition, handwritten and illustrated book of fairy tales by J.K Rowling, sold for nearly $4 million at Sotheby's last week, the highest ever paid for a modern literary manuscript. Amazon.com Inc. is now the proud owner of one of only seven copies of the book. Reportedly, Rowling gave the remaining six copies to "people closely connected to the Harry Potter collection." Proceeds from the sale will go to Children's Voice, a charity co-founded by Rowling that campaigns for children's rights across Europe. You can see pictures of the book on Amazon's website.
The Golden Globe nominations were announced this week. Quite a few of the favorites were movies based on books, such as Atonement, No Country f0r Old Men, A Mighty Heart, Away from Her, Into the Wild, Love in the Time of Cholera and The Kite Runner.
John Grisham's brother, Mark Grisham is set to co-author (with David Donaldson) a novel of the Civil War and the events at Wingate Asylum, under the title Bedlam South. Publication will be in 2008.
Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite librarian? Try In the Library perfume.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
In January, we will have new books by W.E.B Griffin, Sara Paretsky, John Grisham, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, Douglas Preston, Stuart Woods, Jayne Anne Krentz, John Lescroart, Barbara Delinsky, Bernard Cornwell, Jack Higgins, Luanne Rice, Rita Mae Brown, Russell Banks, Arturo Perez-Reverte and Geraldine Brooks. One new author to watch is Jeffrey Hantover, whose first novel, The Jewel Trader of Pegu, has been getting a lot of good publicity and reviews. The historical novel follows a Jewish jem trader from Venice to Burma as he seeks his fortune. I'm really looking forward to this one!
In February we will have new books by James Patterson, Robert B. Parker, J.D. Robb, Lisa Scottoline, Danielle Steel, Robert Crais, Sophie Kinsella, and Mary Kay Andrews. Lauren Willig's fourth book in her Pink Carnation series, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, will also be out this month. I absolutely loved the first three and I can't wait for the next one!
In March we will have new books by Jodi Picoult, Anne Rice, Jeffrey Archer, Steve Martini, Jonathan Kellerman, and Laura Lippman. Benjamin Black's sequel to Christine Falls, Silver Swan, as well as Lisa Lutz's sequel to The Spellman Files, The Curse of the Spellmans, will also be out this month. I enjoyed both of these mysteries (both firsts in a planned series) and am looking forward to meeting up with these characters again. Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong will also be out this month. This novel won the Man Asian Literary Prize a few months ago and has gotten great reviews.
Here's to staying warm with a good book!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The National Book Critics Circle, Amazon, Bookmarks Magazine, Publisher's Weekly, and of course, the supreme leader of book reviews, the New York Times, have all published their picks for best books of 2007. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, Falling Man by Don DeLillo, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamid, Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (a National Book Award winner), A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu and Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill are just a few of the fiction titles that seem to keep popping up on multiple lists. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, World Without Us by Alan Weisman and Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner (another National Book Award winner) are the popular non-fiction titles.
Did you read anything from these lists? I'm ashamed to say that I've only read a few. But, in my defense, I have many of these books on my shelves at home. I have just been so busy with other books that I haven't made it to these yet. I'll get there, eventually. At least I feel vindicated in buying these books. What were some of your favorite books from 2007? I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns and Gail Tsukiyama's The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, which I did not see on any of these lists, unfortunately. I also enjoyed Rhys Bowen's new series Her Royal Spyness, Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott and Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster. And of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Stay tuned for a list of books to read in the upcoming year!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Chabon, who originally titled the work Jews with Swords, described the novel as a "swashbuckling adventure story" and it definitely is that. The story grips you from the very beginning with sword fighting, hasty escapes and these two very interesting characters. Chabon's typical rich, verbose prose is present here as well. I found myself consulting a dictionary and trusty Wikipedia several times while reading this story. It's a fun, quick read-great for anyone who likes a good, old-fashioned adventure story.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
More than just a companion to the hugely popular show, No Reservations is Bourdain's fully illustrated journal of his far-flung travels. The book traces his trips from New Zealand to New Jersey and everywhere in between, mixing beautiful, never-before-seen photos and mementos with Bourdain's outrageous commentary on what really happens when you give a bad-boy chef an open ticket to the world.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
On a small island near New Guinea during the 1990's, a conflict is occurring between the island rebels and the invading "redskins." Matilda, one of the children on the island, recounts how the villagers attempt to go about their lives, but the war is always in the background. The sole white man on the island, Mr. Watts, agrees to take over as teacher for the village children. Mr. Watts introduces the children to "Mr. Dickens" by reading Great Expectations to them. The children love the story, especially Matilda, because it provides them with an escape from the everyday realities of the war. Matilda becomes fascinated with Pip, as well as with Mr. Watts. Her mother, on the other hand, dislikes that the children's heads are being filled with useless stories. When she hides the copy of Great Expectations, it has a disastrous result for everyone on the island.
At first, I thought this was a fairly good story. Not really substantial, but a good story nonetheless. But I don't think the author did a very good job of capturing the horror of the war and its affects on Matilda. When Matilda's mother steals Great Expectations, there are extremely violent repercussions, however Matilda gives very little thought to it. The story seems to be wrapped up rather neatly, with no lasting affects on Matilda, which just did not seem believable to me.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
I've said before that I could listen to Frank McCourt talk all day. He has a wonderful Irish brogue that just makes anything he says sound great. I listened to all of his memoirs on CD, and it was wonderful to hear him speak in person. He is actually a very funny guy, and had the audience cracking up the whole evening. He talked about how strange kids can be sometimes and joked that they should be shipped out of the country after third grade and not allowed back until 19 (a thought I think many of us have from time to time). He also implored the audience "don't just buy one book. Don't be stingy!" He informed us that some of the proceeds for Angela and the Baby Jesus will be donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which if you remember from Angela's Ashes, helped the McCourt family survive by giving them food and clothes when they were poor. He reported that he is meeting with the screenwriter for a movie adaptation of Teacher Man. He said that he will have a say in this script, unlike in the movie of Angela's Ashes, because he wants to be sure that teachers are portrayed well. When someone in the audience asked if he will be writing any more memoirs, he declared that he is sick of himself and won't be doing any more memoirs. Fans will be happy to know that he is currently working on a novel that sounds like it will be set in Brooklyn. But according to him, "God only knows" when it will be published, so fans will have to be patient.
Follett will be writing a new trilogy called The Century Trilogy, which will cover the events of the 20th century from WWI, WWII and the Cold War. The first installment is scheduled for publication in 2010, with the second in 2012 and the third in 2014.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
You may be hearing more about Kidder in the upcoming months at the Deerfield Library, so stay tuned!
"A panoramic novel of life on the Mongolian grasslands during the Cultural Revolution, this masterly work is also a passionate argument about the complex interrelationship between nomads and settlers, animals and human beings, nature and culture. The slowly developing narrative is rendered in vivid detail and has a powerful cumulative effect. A book like no other. Memorable."
Worth $10,000, the prize is sponsored by the same company that sponsors the Booker Prize. The book will be published in English in March 2008.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Take a look at this article from Time on "Why Norman Mailer Mattered."
Friday, November 9, 2007
The Whitethorn Woods are woods near the Irish town of Rossmore. A well is located in these woods, and has been named St. Ann's Well because it is believed to be a source of miracles. A highway is proposed, which will go right through the woods and destroy the well. The town is divided on the issue and Father Brian Flynn is caught in the middle. Each chapter in the book is the story of someone who either lives in Rossmore, visits Rossmore, or is connected to Rossmore in some way.
Even though there are many characters, Binchy creates well-developed characters with distinct voices and unique stories that pulls the reader into their lives. A good read.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
A high school in Charleston, West Virginia banned two of Pat Conroy's books. Take a look at what he has to say about it. I especially like his point that banning the books will only encourage kids to read them.
"Because you banned my books, every kid in that county will read them, every single one of them."
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Judas Coyne is an aging rock star with an obsession for macabre objects. His collection includes a snuff film, a human skull, a hangman's noose and a cookbook for cannibals. When he sees a suit for sale on an online auction that is said to be haunted with a ghost, he decides he must have it for his collection. As soon as the suit arrives, strange things begin to happen and Judas begins seeing the dead man. In an attempt to learn more about the ghost, he contacts the woman who sold him the suit. It turns out that she is the sister of Judas' former girlfriend who recently committed suicide. The ghost in the suit is their father, who blames Judas for the suicide. The ghost is intent on killing Judas to avenge his daughter's death.
And that's about all I can tell you. I was so creeped out, I stopped reading. I admit that I am a big baby. Nothing really scary or violent happens (at least up to that point), but it was pretty creepy. And, Judas has two dogs, and I just know something is going to happen to those dogs, which I couldn't stand to think about. What I can tell you though, is the premise of the story is very clever and it is obvious that Joe Hill is a very talented writer. I am sorry that I couldn't stick with it, because it's a good book. But I need to be able to sleep at night. I have passed this one off to my husband, who likes all thing scary and creepy, so hopefully he can tell me how everything works out. This would be a great read for those who appreciate a good scary story.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Hope to see you there!
Time: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 7:00 PM
Location: Skokie School, 520 Glendale, Winnetka, IL 60093
No reservations necessary.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
This is a fascinating story of a very brave family. Ackerman gets much of her information from Antonina's diaries, which provide incredible details of their activities in the resistance, as well as day to day life in occupied Warsaw. A great read!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This is a sweet story, with quirky, charming characters. It's somewhat predictible, but that doesn't make the story any less enjoyable. Fans of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic should enjoy this one.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
This is a fun, quick read. Since I don't understand much about football, the descriptions of the games were a little confusing, so I skipped to the end of the games to find out the final score. But even with all the football, it was still an enjoyable read. Descriptions of life in Italy-the food, the people, the towns-were my favorite part.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Kerasote takes an uncommon, although interesting, approach to "raising" Merle. He believes that domestic dogs are responsible and show good behavior when they are not confined but given their freedom. Whereas dogs that are crated, leashed and kept in fenced yards to not mature, are permanently halted in the puppy stage and need direction from humans their entire lives. On page 257, he makes an interesting, although strange, point that most dogs are suffering from a version of Stockholm Syndrome.
"our control of...food, water, elimination and fun-we reduce dogs to a state of quiet capitulation, a softened version of the Stockholm Syndrome...virtually all dogs remain captives. Indeed, the activities they enjoy-roaming, seeing other dogs, and exploring interesting odors-are constantly thwarted by the demands of modern civilization and training methods that have been designed to bring about what one dog trainer...has called 'the reversal of millions of years of evolution and genetic propensity.' Is the loyalty people then receive from their dogs true devotion, or the numbed reaction of captives to captors?"
This is an interesting concept that I had never considered before, but now I feel like a terrible dog-mom. Kerasote rarely leashes Merle and installs a dog door so he can come and go as he pleases. Merle makes the rounds of their small town in Wyoming, and has lots of dog friends. He is very independent, but also very devoted to Kerasote and very well-behaved. Some critics have complained that Kerasote anthropomorphized too much with Merle, interpreting what Merle must be thinking. It is a little strange at first, but I think it helps us get to know Merle's personality. My only criticism is the practicality in this. Yes, I would love it if my dog could live this way, but for people that live in a city with traffic, dogs cannot roam free. Kerasote mentions that many animal organizations are proponents for looser leash laws and designated off-leash areas. According to the San Francisco SPCA: "limiting dog play results in under-socialized, under-exercised, under-stimulated dogs and often leads to behavior problems." So maybe that's a place to start.
WARNING: The last 100 or so pages of this book is a sob-fest. Obviously with a dog book, we know what's coming. It's inevitable. But that doesn't make it any easier to read. Kerasote journals Merle's aging and his declining health. When Merle can no longer make the rounds of their town, it is heartbreaking. Kerasote considers the idea of euthanizing Merle, but decides to let Merle die on his own time. He mentions how humans are sometimes too quick to euthanize animals because we are uncomfortable with watching them die. Kerasote is by Merle's side the entire time, caring for him and calming him. (Oh, I'm getting a little weepy just thinking about it.) Dog lovers will have a hard time with the last 100 pages. Although the end is extremely sad, it is a funny and touching story of the relationship between a man and his dog, as well as a fascinating look at canine behavior and a different way to think about raising dogs. Highly, highly recommended.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Friedman basically says that many factors, including the web, outsourcing, insourcing and offshoring, have leveled the world's playing field. In order for us to compete in a flat world, we must become "untouchables," meaning we need to find jobs that cannot be outsourced, automated or digitized. Most of what he discussed was not news to me, but he has an interesting chapter called The Quiet Crisis, which talks about how our country is starting to lag behind in terms of producing people who can compete in this flat world. Compared to other countries, we have a lack of highly skilled scientists and engineers. He believes this is because young people are more interested in TV and video games than math and science. American children also lack ambition and creativity that is necessary to compete in a flat world.
It's an interesting book, and his writing and anecdotes are enjoyable which makes it less painful to read (or skim) 565 pages.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Author Ted Kerasote will be discussing his new book, Merle's Door at the Bookstall in Winnetka today at noon. Call for details and reservations. This book is being compared to John Grogan's bestselling book about his dog, Marley and Me. I'm actually in the middle of reading Merle's Door now, and even though it is his story of his life with his dog, Kerasote includes quite a bit of information about the evolution, domestication and psychology of dogs. More to come on this book.
Pulitzer prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein will also be signing his new biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton, A Woman in Charge, at the Michigan Avenue Borders in Chicago tonight at 7pm.
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
But, maybe there is something to be said for challenging books. Labeling a book as bad or banned is a great way to get a kid interested in it. When I was a kid, I always wanted to get my hands on Judy Blume books, simply because adults thought they were bad and shouldn't be read by kids. When I was in college, I became interested in reading Salmon Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Not because I knew who he was, or even knew what the book was about. I wanted to read it simply because it had been banned in so many countries and the Ayatollah put a hit out on Rushdie. Ok, I admit that I never read the book. It was a bit over my head at that time. But I bought the book anyway, to show my support. So, in honor of Banned Book Week, I'm dusting off my copy of the Satanic Verses. Check out the American Library Association's website for more information, and celebrate your freedom to read by reading a banned book this week!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
This is what I would call a "cozy" mystery. The setting is a charming little town where everyone knows everyone else. The violence is minimal and there is no sex (at least not in this book-Goldy does marry in a future novel, so I assume there may be some eventually). I often find that some cozies are a little too cozy for me, and the amateur detective bit can sometimes seem a little far-fetched, but that's not the case here. The writing is very good. The descriptions of the town and the food are wonderful. There is a little pastry shop that Goldy frequents, and I can just see the cafe tables and smell the cinnamon roles. Goldy is a great character, who has picked herself up from an abusive relationship and is supporting herself and her son. But her life isn't perfect, and she deals with common issues, such as being able to pay the mortgage and dealing with a moody son who is entering puberty. The mystery kept me turning the pages until the end and Goldy's recipes are included, which I loved.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Anabelle Granger inherits her grandmother's fledgling matchmaking business, and decides to turn it around by landing a huge client. She sets her sights on Heath Champion, a popular Chicago sports agent. Anabelle's determination wins her a chance to find the perfect match for Heath. Their stubborn personalities initially cause them to butt heads, but lead to a chemistry that neither can deny for long. Such a great story! Anabelle is a very real, very determined heroine. And you can't help but liking Heath, despite his arrogance. Obviously you know how the ending will play out, but it's a enjoyable ride nonetheless. It's fun, humorous and sexy. Without the quivering and throbbing.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I initially picked up this book, because I like mysteries where there is a search for missing artifacts, artwork, etc. But this book is so much more than that. Christopher presents a rich story with beautiful prose and complex characters. The story is not just about the search for the bestiary, but also Xeno's search for answers and acceptance of his family and himself. This was a very satisfying read, and I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
1. The Blair Years by Alastair Campbell
2. Don't You Know Who I Am? by Piers Morgan
3. Jordan: A Whole New World by Katie Price
4. Wicked by Jilly Cooper
5. Dr Who Creatures & Demons by Justin Richard
6. The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
7. I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna
8. Humble Pie by Gordon Ramsay
9. The Story Of A Man And His Mouth by Chris Moyles
10. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
I don't know about you, but I've never left a book behind anywhere. At least not on purpose. But most of these titles seem like ones that I would leave behind. Except for Harry Potter, of course.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Bookstall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka will be hosting Laura Moriarty on Monday, September 17th. The author of the book The Center of Everything will be promoting her latest novel, The Rest of Her Life. On Thursday, September 20th, the store will host Tim Weiner, author of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. They will also host author Amy Bloom at the store on this date. She will be promoting her new book, Away.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll get to any of these, so let me hear from you if you are able to attend!
* 25% of adults surveyed had not read any books at all that year.
* Of those who had read, 7 was the average number of books read. Women averaged 9 books, while men averaged 5.
* Women and retirees were the most avid readers.
* Religious works and popular fiction were the most popular.
* One in five readers read romance.
* Men read more biographies and history books than women.
*Conservatives accounted for 34% of the non-readers, while liberals and moderates accounted for 22%. (Why this is important, or even interesting, I'm not sure).
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Friday, August 31, 2007
I enjoyed the beginning when they talked of their lives before the fighting broke out, and even though Americans might view their way of life as simple, they were happy, safe and well fed. I also liked the little bit about their adjustment to life in America: their first time using a soda machine, their first trip to Wal-Mart, etc. Most of all though, their stories just stunned me. I kept reminding myself how young these boys were when they endured this, and I just cannot believe they made it. This is a heart wrenching story about the effects of war on children, and an inspiring tale of their determination to survive.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
P.S. During the previews before The Nanny Diaires, a preview for the Kite Runner was shown. When I first heard they were making a movie based on one of my favorite novels, I swore to myself I wouldn't see it. I don't think I could bear to see the story changed in any way, and I'm not sure they will be able to convey the emotion I felt when reading the book. But I have to admit, it looks really good and I'm not sure I'll be able to resist.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single thirty-something woman must be in want of Jane Austen
Austenland by Shannon Hale is about a young woman, Jane Hayes, who is a thirty-something single career woman. Obsessed with Pride and Prejudice's Mr. Darcy (specifically the BBC's movie version starring Colin Firth), Jane thinks she will never meet a man that could compare to him. When her great aunt dies, bequeathing her a three week vacation at a secretive Austen-like resort, Jane heads off to England. This resort is set up to be just like 19th century Victorian England. Jane is required to dress in the appropriate costume of the time, follow the customs, etc. During her stay, she snogs one of the servants (which is absolutely forbidden), and also engages in flirtation with one of the gentlemen. Since both men are paid actors at the resort, Jane is unsure whether these encounters are real, or just part of the act. Blah blah blah. Happily ever after. The characters who visit the resort are quite amusing, as is the idea of such a vacation. This is a fun, light read, but it's forgettable.
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler has another thirty-something single woman who is obsessed with Jane Austen. Courtney has just broken off her engagement with Frank, after she finds him canoodling with their cake decorator. After a night of drowning her sorrows in Pride and Prejudice, Courtney wakes up to find herself in another body, in another time. She wakes up in 1813 England as Jane Mansfield. Jane is 30 and still single, and has a mother who is more concerned with marrying her off than with her happiness. When Courtney finally realizes she is not dreaming, she must act the part or risk having Mrs. Mansfield toss her into an asylum. Apparently Jane had been having some sort of secret fling with one of the servants. Meanwhile, her mother has been trying to marry her off to Mr. Edgeworth, the neighborhood's most eligible widow, and it seems that Jane had also been having an on-again, off-again kind of relationship with him. Courtney/Jane tries to figure out how she got to 1813 and how she will get back to her real life, while keeping up the pretense of being Jane. Courtney/Jane tries to take advantage of the situation and enjoy what 19th century England has to offer, and slowly she begins to think of herself as Jane. Blah Blah Blah. Happily ever after. The author does a wonderful job with the descriptions of country life, London and Bath and Courtney/Jane's reactions to common 19th century practices (such as bloodletting, communal bathing and chaperons for a 30 year old woman) is amusing. However, I was a little confused with the whole switching bodies part. Why and how did it happen and where is the real Jane? Courtney/Jane ponders these questions, but there don't really seem to be any answers. In the end, it is also somewhat ambiguous as to whether Courtney gets back to her real life or if she stays in 19th century England. Maybe that's the point. In any case, it was entertaining even though it has some weak points.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
In my search I discovered a new series by James R. Benn. Billy Boyle is the main character and the title of the first book in the series. His second book in the series, The First Wave, will be released next month. Billy Boyle is a Boston cop whose family ties to General Eisenhower got him an office job in London, rather than on the front lines. "Uncle Ike" wants Billy to use his detective skills to investigate problems within the ranks. His first case involves the Norwegian government that is living in England in exile. It is believed that a spy is amongst them and Billy sets out to find him. During his investigation, a high ranking Norwegian official is murdered, and Billy is also asked to solve the crime. Billy is no Christopher Foyle, but he is a likeable character. It's a good mystery without a lot of violence. Benn does a good job of describing the effects of the war on England. It has a somewhat slower pace than most WWII thrillers, but that's what I like about Foyle's war. I did get a little confused with all the characters and suspects, but aside from that, I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading the next one.
It turns out that World War II is one of the hottest subjects in publishing right now (both fiction and non-fiction) and is expected to continue in the next decade. The Telegraph has an interesting article about the World War II publishing phenomena, and why it is so popular.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The story starts out somewhat slow, and Notaro goes a little overboard with the similes ("new businesses popped up all over town like pimples on the forehead of puberty"). But Spaulding is a charming town, full of quirky residents, and Maye's attempts at making friends is quite funny. At then end, I found myself thinking this would make a good series. I would like to go back to Spaulding and spend more time with these characters.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Her first book, Bitter, is described as "the story of how a former sorority girl went from having a household income of almost a quarter-million dollars to being evicted from a ghetto apartment." This really sums it up. Lancaster is working in corporate America, making great money and suddenly looses her job. Her fiance is also downsized, so they leave their beautiful Chicago penthouse apartment, and she must learn to do without the designer clothes and bags, expensive martinis, manicures and haircuts. She braves the unemployment office carrying her Prada bag, and can't find a job because she is overqualified for everything. With all of her free time, Jen spends a lot of time online and develops her own blog, Jennslyvania, which leads to a book deal. Her second book, Bright Lights, picks up after Jen has sold her first book and is working on the second. Jen decided to continue writing, but she finds that being a writer isn't like Carrie Bradshaw's Sex in the City lifestyle. To pay the bills, she has to take temp jobs. She now shops at Target instead of on the Magnificent Mile and struggles with finding an affordable apartment in Chicago without living in the ghetto.
Lancaster reminds me of the character Karen from the TV show Will & Grace: funny, clever, crass, selfish, stuck up and sarcastic. To me, Karen was the best part of that show. I feel the same about Lancaster. Although her story is not uncommon, her personality, reactions to life and the way she tells her story is just hilarious. I made a spectacle of myself laughing uncontrollably while reading her books in public. These books are great fun! I believe she is working on her third book, which I am anxiously awaiting!
Thursday, August 9, 2007
This is a great look at the seedier side of Chicago's history. Aside from the prostitution, the corrupt politicians, wealthy playboys, bribes, scandals, white slave trade, and Chicago underworld make for a very interesting story. It is written like a "non-fiction novel," which makes it very readable. However, that technique made me wonder how much was based on actual documentation and how much was just conjecture. Nonetheless, it's an entertaining story. Those who enjoyed Devil in the White City for the Chicago history, will find interest in this as well.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Incidentally, I have tried a few recipes from her cookbook, Cooking with My Sisters: One Hundred Years of Family Recipes from Bari to Big Stone Gap. The baked zucchini and the wedding cookies turned out pretty good, but the braciole was a disaster and a waste of three hours and a lot of meat. This is probably due to the fact that my cooking skills are questionable and the meat I was using had the texture of a rubber band. But the cookbook is still fun to read-aside from the recipes, she includes stories about her own family.
Friday, August 3, 2007
The position does not come with any specific responsibilities, although previous laureates have initiated different projects.
LibraryThing is probably one of the most well-known sites. You can catalog up to 200 books for free, but a one-time fee of $25 will give you a lifetime subscription and allow you an unlimited number of books. Shelfari and GoodReads are similar to LibraryThing. Both are completely free and allow you to include as many books as you wish.
I started using LibraryThing first. I like the layout and find it easy to use, but they only allow you to create one "shelf" or list. I wanted to create a list of books I have already read and a separate list of books that I want to read, but could not do this with LibraryThing. GoodReads does have this option, but I don't like the layout as much as LibraryThing. While all of these sites are social sites, it seems that Shelfari and GoodReads pushes the social aspect more, encouraging "Friends" like a MySpace account. So for now, I'm using both LibraryThing and GoodReads, but I am hoping that LibraryThing will develop the option for multiple "shelves."