30 April 2012

Nerd Do Well

Fabulous book.  Simon Pegg is as funny on the page as he is on the screen.  very recommended if you have any geekiness in you . 

18 April 2012

The Unwritten 5: On to Genesis

Finished The Unwritten Volume 5: On to Genesis by Mike Carey, Peter Gross and Vince Locke.  I really liked this one; i've loved the whole series actually. 

And i've forgotten a book.  i've got to get back to properly updating this blog. 

13 April 2012

Hard Times is OVER!

The audio book anyway.  Not sure about the general hard times people are having.  I listened to Hard Times by Charles Dickens and I have to say it was not much fun.  It is hard to judge older books at times; things that seem like cliches now may have been fresh then, plot twists may not have been telegraphed to a reader then the same way it seems now.  Essentially the book is about a few people in Coketown.  Mr. Gradgrind is a man obsessed with facts and raises his children, Louisa and Samuel, to eschew fantasy and feelings and imagination.  Bounderby is a business owner in the town and, very creepy, lusts after Louisa, who at the start of the story is about 14. eewww.  There are a couple of laborers, Samuel Blackpool and Rachel, who both have difficult lives.  

The Gradgrind children grow up and Louisa does marry Bounderby.  eeewww again.  Tom works for Bounderby at his bank and uses his sister to make his life easier.  Bad things happen, Louisa almost has an affair, then more bad things happen. 

I just felt like this book was A Lesson To Be Learned, not a real book.  There were lovely phrases but the characters (except perhaps Louisa) are all stereotypes.  i just couldn't enjoy it.  a 3 for me. 

12 April 2012

Bringing Up Bebe

I don't have kids at this point.  So, I'm not sure how Bringing up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman came up on my reading radar.  For whatever reason, i read a review and wanted to read the book!  Reading this book made me actually feel like I might could handle the motherhood thing.  Granted, it would be easier in France with paid leave and daycare and such, but I still feel like I could do it.  It also made me decide that, if i ever do have a kid, not to go online to a single pregnancy site.  I know myself and i will freak myself out. 

So there's also a theme that's mentioned in the book that i've also read around the web.  That's of men "helping" their wives with the kids and house.  Even my mom said something like "B's going to help you out right?"  For the longest i couldn't figure out why that irked me and then i read a post over on Offbeat Mama.  This post describes exactly how i feel.  "Helping" is what you do as a favor for someone.  If my best friend keeps my dog for the weekend while we go out of town, that's helping.  When B walks the dog, that's just taking care of the dog!  I think B and i are partners; one of us may do something more than the other, or be better at something than the other but we are sharing our lives.  I can't see why that won't continue on as we move along in our lives together.  

anyway, rant over.  I recommend this one, if just for the "living in France" aspect.  a 6. 

10 April 2012

Hitchhiker's Guide Part 2

I finished The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams.  Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent in the Hitchhiker's movie, Watson in the BBC Sherlock, and some hobbit in some movie out later this year) read the version I listened to.  He is really great! His Marvin is wonderful and he pulls a New York accent out for Zaphod! 

It is strange listening to these books.  I read them, the first few volumes probably several times, when i was in middle and high school.  I remember parts of them, most of the basic plot points, but not much else.  Another thing is that i'm a bit more steeped in British culture now.  I've read more modern and older British novels.  I've read Nick Hornby's non-fiction.  I've watched the modern Doctor Who.  I've seen shows like Sherlock, Spaced, and Red Dwarf.  I love Sean of the Dead and Snatch and Children of Men and V for Vendetta.  Why do i mention all this?  Because i've read the books before i'm not trying to figure out what's going on and i can pay more attention to the words.  And because i'm a bit of an Anglophile now the jokes are more funny because they make so much more sense!  I can say i'm really enjoying the series more this time.  a 6!

07 April 2012

Spaaaaaaaace

I finished Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neal deGrasse Tyson.  I can only half recommend it.  If you've listened to a few of his talks these last few years, you've heard much of the book. It is all very interesting but not new.  B and i had a bit of fun going over the charts and graphs at the end. 

06 April 2012

Rendezvous with Rama

I listened to Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. ClarkeWhile on vacation over Christmas, B had played it in the car as he was driving.  He mostly drove overnight while I slept so i caught bits and pieces of the story.  I heard the introduction by Robert J. Sawyer (Fast Forward, the WWW series) and probably the first third of the story.  Then I was asleep for a while, caught maybe an hour in the middle of the second half then heard the last 15 minutes.

I was interested enough by what i heard to give the whole thing a listen.  about 150 years from now, about 200 years from when Clarke wrote it, there is a network of satellites and telescopes searching for asteroids that may strike Earth or one of its many colonies.  There are colonies on the Moon, Mars, several moons, and even Mercury!  One of these satellites sees an anomaly which scientists name Rama as they are working through the Hindu pantheon of gods.  When scientists arrange a flyby by a probe, they discover that Rama is actually a spaceship of some kind.  It is a long cylinder made of metal which is hollow so the humans decide they must get inside.  The only ship that can get to Rama to investigate is the Endeavour, captained by an Australian named Norton.  They proceed to enter Rama, explore and see some amazing sights.

I really liked this book.  The majority of the characters are competent professionals; there aren't any "bad guys" on the Endeavour.  Everyone is smart, curious and highly trained even if they are applying that training to an entirely new situation.  I guess because everyone seemed, not realistic exactly because you hardly know about their internal lives, so dedicated you rooted for them and wanted to be there with them.  The story is very detailed so you really can see the action.  


Clarke seems really ahead of his time.  Several of the crew are female, including the ship's doctor.  Two of the male officers are a couple and share a wife who I think lives on the Moon.  Captain Norton has two wives with families, one on Earth and one on Mars (how he affords it I don't know).  Rather than the various nations running things, there is a planetary committee.  Overall it is very progressive. 

The only thing that keeps this from being a 7 from me is that the book leaves so many questions unanswered.  You should read it!

05 April 2012

Btt for 4/5/12

I've been so slacking on blogging lately.  I blame it on school, overtime and trying to get my head around planning a wedding.  July 21 (or maybe 22 or 20) is the date!  

Here's the question:
Bookish Sarah asks:
If someone asked you for a book recommendation, what is the FIRST book you’d think to recommend (without extra thought)?

Short answer: none.

Long answer:  It's that "without extra thought" bit that gets me. If there was a specification of who was asking (your significant other, your best friend, your boss) then i could probably answer without a thought because i know them and know what they might like to read.  as the question just says "someone" i can only assume that it isn't someone i know well.  And i can't recommend a book to someone i don't know well without extra thought.

The thing is, i can recommend books all day.  Seriously.  especially if i've access to my phone as i can recall things and verify titles.  Snow Crash.  Cloud Atlas.  And Then There Were None.  Harry Potter.  The Moonstone.  Watchmen.  American Gods.  His Dark Materials.  but none of my raving and love for those books will make you like them if they just aren't for you.  I can think you're wrong of course but that's no help.  If i recommend the absolutely wrong thing to a person who's not a reader, it could put them off reading altogether!

At the minimum, i would have to ask 3 questions: what's your favorite book, what's the last book you read and did you like that one? with those 3 answers, i can take a pretty good try.  unless the answers are historical romance novels or all Bill O'reilly/Ann Coulter books.  Then i'm lost.

 

04 April 2012

Not so much

I didn't particularly care for When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro.  It's the story of a man, Christopher Banks, who grows up in Shanghai in the 20's.  When he's ten, both his parents disappear within a few months and he goes to live with his aunt in England.  He goes off to school and university then becomes a detective.  When he's about 30, on the eve of World War 2, he returns to Shanghai to find out what happened to his parents.  


The story is told in three or four flashbacks.  We get some of his early life as a flashback when he's in his early 20's, more in his mid 20's, then the detecting in Shanghai is told in flashback sometime after the events happen.  I wanted to know about his cases as he became a detective but there was not much about them.  Much of the story was also not at all believable.  When Christopher goes to Shanghai, close to 20 years after his parents disappeared, everyone, including Christopher, expect him to find his parents alive!  No one even seems to think that, after all this time and they haven't shown up anywhere, that they might be dead.  There are a few reasons people get kidnapped or disappear and almost none of them involve being held but kept healthy and alive for 20 years.  


So this book gets a 4 from me.  I do like Ishiguro's style though and will try something else by this author.