Friday, June 30, 2006

News: The Alphabet of Manliness


The Alphabet of Manliness by Maddox was published recently and I am tempted to thumb through it. It is "an illustrated, X-rated, politically incorrect guide to urinal etiquette, female anatomy and obedient wives" (USA Today) and one of those books that will most likely be discussed within the bar scene for the next year. Maddox is the webmaster of thebestpageintheuniverse.com which he started in 1997 with a list of things that "pissed him off."

The book's publisher states "Finally, a book that guarantees your balls will be stomped; a book so manly that it will make even the burliest of men (and in some cases, the burliest of women) feel inadequate. So manly, it needs to be shaved: The Alphabet of Manliness. This collection of sacred writings may very well be the greatest compilation of all things manly throughout history."

Chances are I will laugh at how stupid this book is instead of wasting my time and energy critiquing it.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Eh

I was really excited to read this book because I really like Julia Quinn's books, especially the Bridgerton series. But I really think Ms. Quinn peaked too early with the series. The second book, "The Viscount Who Loved Me," is one of my favorite romance novels, so really this eighth and final installment just couldn't compare.

It wasn't that it wasn't a good book, per se. Ms. Quinn's writing, along with Eloisa James's and Mary Balogh's, is the best in the Regency romance genre. But this book just felt like it was lacking in something I will call "Umph." After seven books reading about the Bridgerton siblings, I still felt like I didn't know much of anything about the hero. His personality was not distinct from the other Bridgerton characters. And the drive of this story was pretty much love and the different ways that people experience falling in love. Unfortunately, I wasn't really convinced that the hero and heroine loved each other as much as they said they did, basically because all they ever did was say it, over and over again. Back it up with something!

Also, I think I was a little disappointed because I was expecting more of a dramatic and unifying ending to the Bridgerton series. Ms. Quinn has written eight of them, and she writes about one book a year. I picked up on the fouth book, but that was still five years ago! I've been waiting a long time for this chapter to close, and I just wanted something more climatic.

But, if you've never read a Bridgerton book and you like romances that are clever and well-written, you'll like this book. But here is where it falls in my overall rating for the series:

1. The Viscount Who Loved Me
2. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
3. An Offer From A Gentleman
4. The Duke and I
5. It's In His Kiss
6. To Sir Phillip, With Love
7. On The Way To The Wedding
8. When He Was Wicked

Lindsey's Grade: B- (you're right Mike, I just can't do it!)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It Is Finished


Well, I finally finished "The Historian." For a while there it felt like I would be reading that book forever, but really that was mostly because I have a semi-job now and therefore not as much time to read. And even though I'm a fairly quick reader, I can't zip through 656 pages.

Now, I've heard mixed reviews about this book. It's gotten a lot of good press and attention, which made me buy it in the first place, but I read elsewhere that a lot of people were disappointed with the ending. I think I would have to disagree.

The sheer complexity and creativity of this story makes "The Historian" an engrossing and enjoyable read. It is essentially a book about the legend of Dracula, Vlad Tepes, a 15th century Prince of Wallacia. The characters in the book are historians who are basically researching their way through old archives all over Eastern Europe. One of the things I liked best about this book was how the author portrayed that part of the world with such beauty and history that it made me want to go there when before I had no interest in the area at all!

I'm not really one to read fantasy/magic/vampire books, but this one is subtle enough and presented in a classy way so that I didn't mind it at all.

Lindsey's Grade: A

Book Review: Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael R. Gordon and General Bernard E. Trainor.


As the subtitle indicates, Cobra II recalls the successes and failures of the American campaign in Iraq. Gordon and Trainor leave no stone unturned in detailing the preparation and execution of the war. They illustrate the internal and external political struggles encountered by the military throughout the campaign. In particular, the authors take aim at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his role in developing an invasion and occupation plan with an insufficient number of soldiers in country. The detail contained in the book is also its primary weakness. The authors present the battles in chronological order and, while very informative, I felt that the book dragged on towards the end.

Temporary’s Grade: B.

See Also:

Yossef Bodansky, The Secret History of the Iraq War. Temporary’s Grade: B+.

George Friedman, America’s Secret War: Inside the Worldwide Struggle Between America and Its Enemies. Temporary’s Grade: A-.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Book Review: The Complete Book of Sushi

The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

I love sushi! The only problem is that it can be expensive and they don't have dollar sushi like in Japan. I chose this book because it received great reviews on Amazon and I've been very pleased with it so far. The step-by-step direction of how to make sushi rice was great! They also explain what to look for when selecting fresh fish and seafood. I successfully made six rolls on Sunday and they tasted awesome! The book goes beyond sushi with several soup recipes as well. So, for those of you who are nearby there may be sushi parties in the future so that I can keep practicing!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Thrift Store Finds


I don't like to buy books brand spankin' new so on weekends I frequent the many thrift stores in Boise. I've been very lucky on some occasions, finding some fairly recent books like David McCullough's 1776. This weekend I found a first edition copy of Jostein Gaarder's book Sophie's World. The book is a history of philosophy as seen and understood from the perspective of a little girl. It is extremely creative! I have read it twice and believe Forrest still has my copy somewhere which is why I picked up another.

The other book I was happy to find is Marian Keyes' chick lit novel Sushi for Beginners. No, it has nothing to do with sushi, a food I am in love with, but looked like an interesting afternoon read. For a buck fifty I am sure I will be entertained!

What thrift store reads have you found lately?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Who is reading what this summer

I came across an article in USA Today awhile ago that listed what some authors were planning to reading this summer. Here are just a few of them.

Jodi Picoult, author of The Tenth Circle

Digging to America by Anne Tyler: "It's on my nightstand, and I keep looking at it and thinking, 'VACATION!' "

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg: "I savor Elizabeth Berg's books, and I have heard the story behind this one, which makes it even more tantalizing. The idea grew out of a story that Elizabeth heard from a fan about her own life. I love that idea of a transaction between reader and writer."

Sophie Kinsella, author of The Undomestic Goddess

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (to be published in the UK, where Kinsella lives, in July; in the USA in October): "I adored Case Histories, it had such dry humor and a page-turning story line - and this book features the same main character, Jackson Brodie."

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka: "The story of two sisters and the gold-digger who is after their aging father. I have heard it's very funny."

Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone

The March by E.L. Doctorow, Ted Williams by Leigh Montville and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: "These are the books my wife has raved most about from the other side of our bed."

Pushcart Prize XXX: Best of the Small Presses, 2006 Edition, edited by Bill Henderson: "One of my favorite summertime traditions is savoring the annual Pushcart Prize volume. This ever-reliable series harvests a bumper crop of the best American prose and poetry written in the previous year. The selections never fail to satisfy, amaze and illuminate life."

Eliot Schrefer, author of Glamorous Disasters

Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America by Paul Schneider: "Because a recounting of the trek of a conquistador and his motley crew of 400 Spaniards, Caribbean natives and Africans across a searing and untamed American landscape - with only four of them surviving - just screams out fun beach read."

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue: "A 7-year-old is abducted by hobgoblins and replaced by a fairy twin: Don't you want to lie under the covers and have someone read it to you?"

John Grogan, author of Marley and Me

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan: "I've been a fan of Pollan's work for years. He's smart, insightful, funny and often profound. And he makes me question my comfortable assumptions and understand the true costs of the lifestyle choices I make."

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar: "Her writing is lovely, and she takes the reader vividly into another culture, another world - in this case, the modern-day caste system of contemporary Bombay."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kim's New Books

Yes, I've been behind on my reading, well reading for pleasure at least. I could start reviewing technical books on GIS and statistics but I am not that nerdy yet. Instead I thought I would tell you about the books that have come in the mail recently.

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi
Iran is a country I wish I knew more about, along with Ebadi's work. I also love memoirs and this looks extremely promising.

Rogue State 3rd edition: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum
Delia recommended this to me and I read an interesting interview with him not so long ago from Democracy Now!, I think. I started reading it in the car last night and IT LOOKS GREAT!!

Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend
Delia also recommended this one to me. Its next on my reading list. The title should be self-explanatory. "Riverbend is the pseudonym of a young Iraqi blogger; this book archives the first year of her blog, Baghdad Burning. Once a computer programmer who enjoyed considerable personal freedom, after Baghdad's fall, Riverbend finds herself unemployed and largely restricted to the safety of her family's home. In English that would put many Americans to shame, she chronicles daily life under the occupation, writing about water and electricity shortages with humor and exasperation, writing about violence with deep feeling." Keir Graff American Library Association.

Kabul in Winter: Life without Peace in Afghanistan by Ann Jones
I've been waiting for the library to get a copy of this but it doesn't look like it will arrive. Jones recounts her experiences as an aid worker in prisons and schools in post-Taliban Afghanistan and discusses Afghani culture.


As you can see I'm in a Middle East mood! Whats your reading mood?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Book of the Day


You know those calendars where you rip off one a day? Well, I have one on books. Yes, I am a nerd. I even bought if for myself (a whopping $2). So, since I am behind on my reading I thought I would list today's book suggestion!

The Ig Nobel Prizes 2: An All-New Collection of the World's Unlikeliest Research by Marc Abrahams

"Think of the Ig Nobel awards as the Darwin Awards for science. Ig Nobels are bestowed by Abrahams, the editor and cofounder of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, for the most hare-brained 'scientific' schemes. How about this one: a study to learn if listening to elevator music can reduce your risk of catching a cold. 'So funny you couldn't make it up,' promises the Washington Post." --The Book Lover's Calendar

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Book News: Alentejo Blue


Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali

I have read a couple of reviews of Ali's new book and am interested in reading it. It sounds similar to the book Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco which I thoroughly enjoyed. Oprah has also suggested it as part of her summer reading collection. I don't mind Oprah's book suggestions sometimes, but at other times I can't stand the idea that I am reading a book thousands of other women will read only because Oprah suggested it. I will have to wait patiently for the library to obtain this book.


"Provincial Portugal--specifically, the region called Alentejo--provides a rustic but atmospherically rich setting for a cycle of stories by the Bangladeshi-born author of the critically celebrated novel Brick Lane (2003). Are these nine stories better seen as chapters in a loosely constructed novel? Actual classification is incidental as Ali follows a group of individuals who call the village of Mamarrosa home, whether permanently or temporarily. Her sensitivity to tender natures leaves her an astonishing inhabiter of the psychology of a variety of characters who come within Mamarrosa's orbit, including an English writer who has stationed himself there, the local tavern owner, and a female tourist bringing her problems from home. Many characters recur from one story, or "chapter," to the next, providing a strong connective thread in addition to their common setting. A master of concision and suggestion, the author says volumes about characters and situations by what she does not say. It does indeed take a village--in this case, to show the fundamental universality of all human predicaments." Brad Hooper American Library Association.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Book Review: The Mermaid Chair


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

I have finally finished this! I started it awhile ago as an audiobook and finished it since I had a road trip over the weekend. I had looked forward to this book and have wanted to read her other book, The Secret Life of Bees for quite some time.

I would most likely refer to this book as a historical Harlequin book. The main character, Jessie, returns home to Egret Island to care for her troubled mother who in ways is obsessed with the Mermaid Chair and praying for forgiveness. While there Jessie, who has been happily married for years and years, decides to have an affair with a Benedictine Monk. This is where the book becomes absolutely ridiculous and I can no longer read it but convince myself that I must find out more about the Mermaid Chair and Jessie's mother.

Again, what is it about women these days that causes them to break down and have to "explore" who they really are? Why couldn't Jessie be satisfied with her marriage, adoring husband and daughter? There is always the risk that one may not be able to "find themselves" and then what?

Although the Mermaid Chair is real, Egret Island and the monastery are not.

Kim's Grade: C+

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Bad Man

"Guilt by Association" came out a little over a decade ago. My sister has had this book for a while but for some reason I never read it until now. The story involves a young college student who is raped and beaten by a man she meets at a party when he offers to walk her home. That was in 1962 and the woman's life as she had planned it is basically ruined as she doesn't go back to school and her boyfriend breaks up with. Then in 1992 she learns that her rapist, whose last name she didn't know, is a California senator that is running for President of the United States. She decides to get revenge.

It's a satisfying story to watch how she gets her revenge, but at the same time the book was pretty disturbing. When she is raped almost everyone, including her mother and boyfriend, think that it was her fault and that she must have led the man on by letting him walk her home. Nevermind that her jaw was broken, her knee shattered, multiple ribs broken, her lung punctured, her larnyx crushed, and her lung collapsed from the beating he gave her. How could anyone think that was consensual? Even if she wanted to have sex, I don't think she wanted she be beaten within an inch of her life. I know people that pretty crappy views of rape back in the 60's, but I couldn't figure out if the author was exaggerating or really being truthful that back then a lot of people didn't believe that women could be raped. I mean, we've all read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and that was a rape case. But it probably goes without saying that the public view black men and Harvard law students differently when it comes to rape.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Book Review: The Bushes


The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty by Peter Schwetzer and Rochelle Schwetzer

We listened to this book a while back on our way to Jackpot and I would not recommend it. I like to rent audiobooks from Hastings but they really need to beef up on their nonfiction audiobooks. This book is entirely pro-Bush and glosses over many events I would think pertinent to understanding any "dynasty."

I did however learn some interesting stories about how George Jr. received his Skull and Bones' name "Temporary" and that Reagan and Bush Sr. did not get along to the point that the Bushes had not seen the residential section of the White House until Bush Sr. was elected. Think about that! For eight years they were not invited over for cookies and milk! It doesn't sound right.

If you like the Bush family then this is a happy little book. If you want to read something more critical or in depth then stay away!!

Kim's Grade: C+ (I did learn some things and at least it wasn't too long!)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Book Review: Never Drank the Kool-Aid


I was excited about this book until I realized I have little appreciation for hip-hop culture. Its not completely hip-hop though and has some pieces on Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Al Sharpton. For the most part the book is comprised of Toure’s essays from the Rolling Stone. Toure’s writing is wonderful, humorous and thought-provoking.

Bonus points to those who "get" this title!

"In a varied collection of lucid, colorful pieces, journalist Tour, author of the novel Soul City and the story collection The Portable Promised Land, takes readers from the inner sanctum of Prince's Paisley Park to Jennifer Capriati's practice court, Lauryn Hill's Christmas party and beyond. Deftly organized by theme, the book comprises mainly magazine articles dating from 2005 to the mid-'90s, and its title refers to the author's insistence that he never bought into the philosophies of the people he profiled but rather aimed 'to understand who they were beyond the image they want us to think they were.' He succeeds with meteoric personalities, like Eminem and Al Sharpton, and with people like junior-tennis phenom and eventual professional bust Al Parker Jr. Tour has a knack for putting his subjects at ease, and he blends their intriguing candor with apt observations on the nature of their careers. He describes his own place in events without overshadowing the story itself. He's just interested in bringing us along for the ride, even if that means sitting shotgun while DMX pulls a full-speed 180 in a Cadillac Escalade on Sunset Boulevard." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Kim's Grade: B+

Monday, June 12, 2006

Book Review: Why Do Men Have Nipples?


Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg


Lindsey had this book so I thought I would read it. You have to admit that it is a catchy title! The book is full of odd medical-like questions like that of the title. You will find answers to other questions like: "Why do some folks have an "outie" belly button and some folks have an "innie"?, "Can hot tubs make you infertile"?, or "Can you really get scared to death"?

I found the book very funny and would suggest it for any coffee table, party conversation or road trip reading. The only thing I found annoying was the authors' on-going conversation planted throughout the book, it wasn't needed.

Kim's Grade: B+

Friday, June 09, 2006

Book Review: The Dogs Who Found Me


The Dogs Who Found Me by Ken Foster

I read this book in three hours that is how much I loved it! Its not exactly a happy book since Foster discusses how stray dogs have found him all his life. Eventhough you're sad, you can't help but have a smile on your face while reading this. He has what seems to be, a preference for pit bulls since they are too often misunderstood as a breed. He talks about rescuing dogs from abusive homes, random acts of kindness from those wealthy enough to pay for high vet bills and dog food, and his own evacuation, with his three dogs, from New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit.

The chapters are short with each consisting of a dog that has crossed his path. There are also tips on how to approach stray dogs and find housing for them if you can't keep them. For more information on this book or Foster’s dogs you can visit his blog at www.dogswhofoundme.com and see photos of the dogs that have entered and exited his life.

Kim’s Grade: A

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Book Review: The Year of Magical Thinking


The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I have always enjoyed Joan Didion’s writing. I find it honest, simple and direct. I didn’t know what to expect from her memoir but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I have grieved I have never been through a major death like the death of a husband, child or parent. Her memoir is about how she deals with the sudden death of her husband of more than 45(?) years John Gregory Dunne, also an acclaimed author. When he dies their only daughter is in an intensive care unit and spends the next year in and out of the hospital.

"Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

These lines are revisited many times throughout the book as she reflects on life, grief, time, and how to bring John back.

About half way through the book I looked up Didion’s daughter Quintana. I learned that she died soon after Didion turned in her final draft of the book. She was asked to revisit the draft and include the death of her daughter, who is a major aspect of the book but says only that, “Its finished.” I listened to a wonderful interview of Didion by Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air and found it equally as moving as her book. If you have ever experienced a major death or grief or know someone who has, this is a great book.

I also recommend Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

Kim's Grade: A

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Book Review: Blue Shoes and Happiness


Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

I hated this book. I listened to it on a long drive. I should mention that I have not read the other books in this series but I had read that it didn't matter. I found the book to be uneventful; a look into the ordinary life of any woman and not a Botswanan woman. For a detective agency it seemed their work was mundane. I was hoping more of Botswana would come into the picture but it didn't and it makes me wonder why the author chose Botswana when the plot could very well be anywhere.

I will admit that I appreciated the reader using an African accent since it made listening to the book slightly more enjoyable. I have the first book in this series and still plan on reading, so I hope it will be more exciting than this one.

I am afraid of reviewing on Amazon though since everybody loved this book. I can see my review just being slammed!

Kim's Grade: C

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A History of Cheerleading!


Book Review: Cheerleader: An American Icon by Natalie Guice Adams & Pamela J. Bettis


I met Pamela Bettis a couple of months ago when she came to discuss cheerleading. This is a very straightforward, neutral take on cheerleading and is extremely enjoyable. They discuss how cheerleading developed from a mens only squad in the late 1890's into today's ESPN competitions. They talk about the huge industry around pom pons, uniforms, and cheer camps. They discuss adult squads, as in cheerleading over the age of 60, and the CHEER groups that are in several major U.S. cities. Radical cheerleading is also covered, as in using cheerleading techniques in large scale protests such as those usually seen around the World Economic Forum or World Bank meetings.

I should note that this book supports the idea that cheerleading instills confidence and many leadership qualities into young women. It takes guts to try to lead audiences of hundreds or more.

I enjoyed this book a lot and its not because I was a cheerleader, I think its because it is so informative on where this sport has come from and where it is going.

Kim's Grade: A

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Real X-Men

I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago. I thought it looked pretty interesting, and it was. It was kind of a refresher course of the Developmental Biology class I took in undergrad as the author talked about all sorts of things I remember: beta-catenin, insulin-like growth factor, noggin, sonic hedgehog... all that good stuff.

Basically the book talked about how mutations can lead to discoveries about genes and development. In a way it was pretty sad, though, because after reading a few chapters I decided that I'm going to think long and hard before I have children because SO MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG IT'S SCARY!!!

I think people who don't know much about science would find this interesting, but it's hard to tell since I was familiar with all the jargon.

Lindsey's Grade: B

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Book News: Memoirs

With Marley & Me, a memoir of a man and his dog, being such a great hit USA Today has listed other bestselling memoirs. I disagree with their list mainly because they are listed due to the amount of copies sold, not the content. Teri Hatcher's life is of no interest to me and I find it difficult to believe she wrote a book considering she can't even eat!

55 Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life by Teri Hatcher. Manifesto on life, love from Desperate Housewives actress.

60 The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. The author's parents eventually became homeless.

103 A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Oprah chose this for her book club and then disowned it after it was revealed that Frey embellished many details of his experience in rehabilitation when he was 23.

122 The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart by Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin. Country music legend tells his life story, beginning with his boyhood in Texas, and shares his wisdom.

164 Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. At 12, Burroughs was given away to be raised by an unorthodox psychiatrist and his bizarre family.

223 Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. Collection of autobiographical essays.

225 My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme. Child's memoir of her years in France, beginning in 1948, and falling in love with French food.

260 Big Russ & Me by Tim Russert. Meet the Press talk-show host recalls life lessons he learned from his blue-collar father.

For the complete story go here!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dog Books to Watch Out for!


John Grogan's Marley & Me, a wildly successful first-time memoir about a misbehaving Labrador retriever, has been on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list for 32 weeks. It touched a nerve with dog lovers, and now publishers are planning a slew of books about canine companions:

Dog Heroes of September 11th by Non-a Kilgore Bauer (Bowtie Press). No one would guess that Ego Alley and Red, two black Labradors rolling around on the floor of the Washington Convention Center at last month's BookExpo America, played a critical role in recovery after a plane crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 70 search and recovery dogs are featured in this tribute to canine heroes. August.

A Three Dog Life: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas (Harcourt). The author's husband suffered severe injuries from being struck by a car. The unconditional love of her dogs - Harry, Carolina and Rosie - is what gets her through the tragedy. September.

Stealing Love: Confessions of a Dognapper by Mary Fischer (Harmony Books). Fischer, a crime reporter, writes of her tough childhood and how she spends her free time "stealing" dogs that are being neglected and abused. September.

I Have Heard You Calling in the Night by Thomas Healy (Harcourt). Scottish author recounts tale of how his down-and-out life as a drunk and a brawler is turned around when he adopts a puppy. October.

A Good Dog: The Story of Orson, Who Changed My Life by Jon Katz (Villard). Orson is what Katz calls a lifetime dog: "Dogs we love in especially powerful, sometimes inexplicable ways." October.

From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava by Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman with Melinda Roth (The Lyons Press). Kopelman found a 5-week-old flea-bitten mutt just after the battle for Fallujah in 2004. With the help of fellow Marines, journalists, Iraqis and Iams pet food company, Lava was smuggled out of Iraq and into the USA. November.

By Carol Memmott USA TODAY