Showing posts from September, 2010

Jumping in a Meme

Hey all! Hosted by Sheila!
So, right now i am about to finish Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation. I'm also working on Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. And i am going to read The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins next.

A Great Book to Finish on a Lazyish Sunday when You are Sick of Your Corporate Job

While Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream by William Powers was NOT what i expected, it was something i needed to read.

I had expected a book along the lines of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Like a guy decides to go off the grid, hijinks and meaningful moments ensue. This book is more about the spiritual journey of someone who is already far more aware of the problems with consumerism and globalization than most people. William Powers stays in a friend's home, a twelve by twelve cabin, that size because any larger and it would be a house and the owner would have a requirement to have electricity, pass codes inspection, and pay property taxes. He doesn't exactly house sit, he more just sits. He's burnt out on the world and doesn't know if his aid work and conservation efforts in Africa and South America are worth anything. There's lots of walking, biking, meditation and communing with nature. He finds the good places in himsel…

An Unfortunate Title

I finished up Catching Fire today. No, i didn't reread the second Hunger Games book. This book is non-fiction; it just happens to share a title with a massive YA hit.Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham is an anthropology book.
The main idea is that man started controlling fire and cooking around 1.8 million years ago, corresponding to the change from the habilines to Homo Erectus. Cooking allowed our food to be more easily chewed and digested, which led to shorter gut systems and more time to do things besides sitting around and eating. With the energy savings of our stomachs, we were able to grow our brains. Since food being cooked is food easily stolen, pair bonds became stronger and women became the cooks/gatherers while men became hunter/protectors.
I enjoyed this book but it really needed pictures and tables. I've got a nice grasp of the various time periods and species the author talks about but i feel even i would have understood better with som…


I've got to work on better titles for posts. clever things. I also need to work on improving my writing skills for the GRE and grad school.
An interesting piece, completely unrelated to the book i am about to write about!
Today i finished Nomad by AyaanHirsi Ali. Way back in 2007, exactly 3 years ago in fact based on that review date, i read Infidel, Ali's earlier memoir. She divides this book into four parts. The first is about her family, the second about leaving Holland and moving to the USA. The third is about Muslim and tribal attitudes toward modern ideas, like sexuality, education and finance, and the fourth contains her recommendations to combat the rise of jihadist Islam in the west and worldwide.
These last two parts i find the most interesting. I especially found the piece on feminist attitudes toward Islam fascinating. While she recommends that Christian churches aggressively proselytize to Muslims, there are so many different denominations of Christiani…

RIP Graphic Novels

Got a couple of graphic novels to post about, one part of a new series and one the latest in an old series i've enjoyed.

The Walking Dead, Volume 12: Life Among Them by Robert Kirkland and Charlie Adlard, starts shortly after Carl's huge revelation dropped at the end of book 11. As Rick and crew finally get to Washington DC, they find a group of survivors that seem too good to be true. Living in a walled community, headed by a Congressman, this little place seems like it is almost untouched. The kids don't carry guns; they can just play. They don't even have guards posted on the walls. Our heroes must decide if, after all they've been through, they can trust these new people and if it is even possible to go back to normal life.
I realized, whether this is intended by the authors or not, that i don't want to like the new characters! I don't want to know their backstory, what they've lost or done, because i just know that somethings coming in the st…

Really late Farmer's Market Post

About a month ago my shift changed. Now i work on Saturdays, 945 to 845. i dislike it. One reason is that Saturday mornings used to be my farmer market day! Several vendors, like the milk guy, aren't there any other day. So i need to get up early one morning!
I didn't get a picture of this week's farm box. R picked it up for me and it had 3 sorts of eggplant, turnip greens, arugula, bell peppers, red Russian kale, butternut squash, acorn squash, purple island peppers and cucumbers. The butternut squash was kinda small, just over a pound cut up but we made it into butternut squash bake: chunks of squash mixed with onion, a little olive oil, bread crumbs, italian spices and bleu cheese. Sprinkle extra bread crumbs over the top and bake at 400 for 35 mins. YUM!
My plants have had a resurgence due completely to B's intensive watering. The tomato plant is gigantic! And there are tomatoes on it!
The daisies are producing again too.
lots of purple basil.
and garlic chive…


I haven't read much Toni Morrison. Actually, before this book i'd only read Song of Solomon. I thought that was ok but felt like i didn't understand much of it. Beloved is very different. I thought it was very Gothic Tragedy.
The story plays with time, going back and forth with flashbacks and memories. The central event around which everything hinges takes place 18 years before the "present" of the book, pre-Civil War in Ohio. Sethe, a runaway slave with 4 children, sees her owner coming for her and the kids. In an attempt to save them from slavery she tries to kill them, succeeding in killing her year old daughter, Beloved. Sethe goes to jail and the other children do not go back to slavery. Beloved then haunts the home, driving away her two brothers when they become teens. Eventually only Sethe and her youngest daughter Denver remain. After the war when Paul D, a man who was a slave with Sethe, appears for a visit, he drives out Beloved's ghost. …

The Moonstone

A book that i loved that even counts for 3 challenges? That's a reading home run!
Critics consider The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, the first real detective novel. While not a murder, it does have a locked room, English country house cozy mystery at the center. An English colonel in India steals a large diamond which the locals hold sacred. Ostracized from his family as another family member saw the crime, the colonel leaves the diamond, called the Moonstone, to a niece, in the hope she will be cursed as he feels he was. The niece, Rachel Verinder, is a headstrong young lady. A cousin, Franklin Blake, related to both Rachel and the Colonel, is to deliver the diamond to Rachel on her birthday. He notices a trio of Indians following him and worries about the safety of the household, especially once he falls in love with Rachel. On the night of the birthday party, Rachel gets the diamond, but by the next morning it has disappeared!
I did wonder why the Indians didn't jus…

Packing for Mars

I stayed up late last night to finishPacking for Mars by Mary Roach. It's great! Ever wanted to know the weird, gross, TMI stuff about the space program? Like how did the Apollo astronauts go #2? Or what happens when you don't bathe for 2 weeks? what were the space chimps all about? is book answers those questions and many more. Roach is perfectly willing to ask about sex in space, and then to hunt down old Russian porn in an attempt to see it. And how she manages to get in on so many various science experiments I don't know. She gets to ride on the Vomit Comet, NASA's plane that lets the astronauts practice weightlessness. She goes to Devon Island, a desolate place NASA tests vehicles. And she seems to have such a great time!
One chapter talks about the effects of zero/low gravity on the human body. The NASA doctors are still doing studies about this topic and pay people up to $17,000 for 3 months work. Since the work requires lying in bed, my first thoug…

The Murder Room

The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World's Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Michael Capuzzo wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. I was expecting to see the details of a series of cases the group solves just by going over the clues. Maybe a mixture of really old things and newer ones. Maybe at the end they'd announce who Jack the Ripper was.
The book covers more of three men's lives: Frank Bender, a ladies man forensic artist; Bill Fleisher, a Jewish federal agent family man; and Richard Walter, an ascetic forensic psychologist. How they became crime fighters, their personal lives, became friends, how they form the core of the Vidocq Society, named after the first private detective. The Vidocq Society is a group of elite agents, detectives and specialists in crime. They get together and socialize but also turn their varied talents to cold cases brought before them. Frequently it seems the case may be solved by the end of the lunch…

Only Influenza

I've only gotten the flu once. It was winter, December of 2004 or 2005. Sunday night i went to bed with a bit of a headache and a scratchy throat. No big deal. Monday morning i woke up with a fever and achy all over. For the next 7 days i felt terrible. Hot then cold, exhausted but unable to sleep, headaches, muscle aches, shakiness, coughing, congestion. Pretty much every body part/system but my digestive was affected. While not the worst i've ever felt, it was pretty bad and not something i want to repeat. So reading a whole book about the flu was a bit of a challenge.
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry covers many topics. It is the story of the flu pandemic that spread through the world in 1918. To cover the story of the illness you have to cover the doctors who treated it and searched for a cure. So you have to cover how medical education in America went from being a profession anyone who could pay the fee…

Mr. Peanut

Wednesday night i finishedMr. Peanut by Adam Ross. Super short recap. David Pepin's wife dies, he says it is suicide. She's allergic to peanuts and ate some in front of him. Two detectives, one of whom is Dr Sam Sheppard, (i've watched too much LOST, i first wrote Jack Sheppard), the guy who The Fugitive is based on, think Pepin forced her to eat the peanuts. We jump around in the Pepins' lives, as well as getting Sheppard's story and the story of the other detective's marriage.
Essentially, this book is about how men suck ass and women can't explain themselves. and after thinking about it for 2 days i still haven't decided if i like it or not. It has the unreliable narrator thing going on, times 3. and the women characters are disappointing. Especially the detective's wife who just goes to bed for months. It is creepy and chilling in the way events circle around and repeat among the characters. And i did want to find out who killed whom …



WHEEE! R.I.P V Begins!

Carl over on Stainless Steel Droppings has announced Readers Imbibing Peril V! As summer ends, theoretically i guess as it is far too warm here to think about fall, the book blog world turns darker and creepier. We all switch from happy summer reads to gothic mysteries and heart stopping horror!
I'm going for to do Peril the First, reading at least 4 books. And i am sure i'll be throwing in a few short stories and movies as well! Here's my pool of possibilities: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins- old school Victorian mysteryThe Meaning of Night and The Glass of Time by Michael Cox- historical weird mysteryFeed by Mira Grant- YA dystopia sorta-zombies, i thinkPerfume: The Story of a Murderer by Peter Suskind- non-fictionThe Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard- YA vampiresBeloved by Toni Morrison- Well, it is about a ghost!Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers- classic mysteryHandling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist- foreign zombiesHouse of Mystery, Vol. 1 by M…