Saturday, April 29, 2006

 

Book 22: Captain Alatriste


I love going to the movies. i went last night with a couple of friends to a dollar theater and we were almost the only people there. i like that because then you can be obnoxious in public without feeling too guilty. that's another thing i enjoy doing: making a scene. but only with certain people. my friend katrina, with whom i saw "nanny mcphee" last night, is one of those people. tonight i'm going the drive-in. i haven't been to one of those in years...we're going to see horror movies. i hope they are good. am not sure why am writing about all this. guess i'm trying to spice up my posts with more interesting news. don't have any.

arturo perez-reverte is one of my favorite authors. i would recommend making his books into movies, particularly this one. all you producers and famous actors reading this, take note. actually, his book "the club dumas" was made into "the ninth gate" with johnny depp. good book, good movie. anyhoo, his books are always suspenseful. they usually have a theme, this one being courtly poetry and drama. we enter into our story in the first quarter of the seventeenth century in madrid. captain alatriste is a former soldier who now makes his living as a sword for hire. he's a good man, in spite of the fact that he is a sometime assassin. he is possessing of some scruples, those interfering with a job, bringing about our novel's main conflict. our narrator is the young inigo, the son of alatriste's fallen comrade in arms. this was the first book in a series of five, and one does get the sense that this is mainly prepatory for future adventures. we meet our protagonists, of course, his friends who are sometimes poets, sometimes lords of the realm, sometimes swordsmen defending themselves from angry husbands. in this installment alatriste makes an enemy, the private secretary to the king of spain- luis something (they all have really long names i can't remember). it was just a fun read, and a quick one as well. there's lots of fighting, court intrigue and revenge. there's even a little bit of romance, a first love for inigo. she's a heartless bitch, even at the age of 12. we'll see what happens in the next book. i gave this one a smiley. all of perez-reverte's books are good. my two favorites are "the flanders panel" and "the club dumas." but read them all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

#19: The unGuide to Dating


I don't know why but I'm kind of embarrassed that I read this book. I have to post about it though because I need every book to help me reach my goal! I've realized over the past month or so that I have a real problem with admitting to people that I have a desire to date, get married and eventually have a family someday. I would pin that difficulty to 2 different reasons...1. I don't want to seem discontent with my life as a single, because I really do love what God has for me right now in life. But, I know if I wasn't single I would love what God had for me at that point in my life too. and 2. What if God doesn't answer my prayers about my desire to have a family someday. I convince myself that if I don't admit that desire I will feel better if things stay the same.

Anyway, with that background I will admitted I really enjoyed reading The unGuide to Dating by Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz. The authors are both single Christians who have experienced life as a single adult. They didn't get married right out of college or marry the person they were dating in college so it was refreshing to hear their perspectives and experiences with dating. They understand! They addressed topics such as gender roles, men in the church, internet dating, matchmaking, body image, biological clocks, sexual temptation, intergender friendships, and break-ups. All of these topics are addressed from the adult perspective with wit, vulnerability, and wisdom. Throw away I Kissed Dating Goodbye or any other Christian dating book written for 16-20 years olds and pick this book up. I would definitely reccomend this book to guys and girls alike. I do understand more girls will read these types of books, but guys give it a shot too.

Monday, April 24, 2006

 

#18: The Servant Leader


I almost counted this book as #18 and #19 because I read it twice. But I realized the book had lots of pictures and pages that consisted of only one quote or Bible verse so reading it twice should be what it takes for it to count as one book. So here it is book #18. Side note, I really have got to stop doing anything but reading to be able to reach my goal by the end of the year.

The Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges was recommended/loaned to me by a friend who thought it would encourage me with some things I was struggling with. So, I started reading the book right away. What the authors achieved was they gave me some practical things to focus on and think about in areas where I am leading people. I guess I wouldn't always say that I am a leader, but I would say that I desire to be one. I guess the reality that I do have an influence over people, whether at my job or my church, was enough to convince me I need to consider the concepts mentioned in the book. It would be a disservice to other's growth to not try to better my leadership skills, because leading people as a servant leader can be of great benefit to those I am influencing. Being an active member of the local 4-H club growing up, I was quickly engaged in the authors 4 H's (heart, head, hands, and habits) in our lives that need to be transformed to be a true servant leader. The book comes with a great deal of practical advice and encouragement that I enjoyed and hope I can apply in my life.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

 

Book 21: The Maltese Falcon


My last book, "The Brush-Off", motivated me to read some classic crime novels. So I picked this one up at, well, you know where, the library. I was in the mood for a world-weary main character, someone who doesn't waste time or words, someone you could realistically call a "gumshoe." Sam Spade is definitely that. He's got enemies and a slightly oily way of talking. Years ago, probably in high school, I saw this movie and so I couldn't picture Spade as anyone else but Humphrey Bogart. He fit that character nicely, I think. So anyway, this was a fairly good book, if a little confusing. There are several characters who are similar to each other, and I found it difficult to keep them straight. Also I took some allergy medcine before bed several nights this week, and so am unsure if I completely comprehended some of the pages I read. Oh well. A good read. Lately my posts have been quite dull, I'll admit. Maybe my next book will be more interesting, or it will remind me of some funny stories I could tell you. Now I need to hobble downstairs and keep reading book 22. I ran a ten mile race yesterday, and am finding it somewhat difficult to go down steps, or bend at all, for that matter. Ridiculous.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

Book 20: The Brush-Off


this book by shane maloney was very enjoyable. i found it in the mystery section; i do hope that others by this australian author will be surfacing at my library soon. murry whelan is an advisor for the minister of arts in melbourne. though he's not a detective in the typical murder mystery way, he does embark upon a series of adventures in his line of work: suspicious death, art forgeries, corporate fraud and most notably, getting stuck in an octopus-on-stilts costume. that part was hilarious. from reading the book jacket, i wasn't sure that i would like this book. i love the genre mystery complete with grisly murder, brilliant detective, dodgy suspects and so on and so forth. i read agatha christie and the like with great relish. this was not the usual mysterious affair; it was much more about the political realm and the "crime" that goes on behind the scenes. murray, despite his unfortunate name, was an extremely likeable character. he reminds me of the 1940's gumshoe, somewhat hard-boiled with a nose for trouble and softspot for the ladies. as am on this australia kick, i sought out just such an author. it makes me want to visit melbourne and see all the places maloney described. murray goes out into the bush a couple of times, and so i figure the city must not be too far from such remote places, complete with snake incidents. pretty cool. so this was a good read, smiley face, i'll look for another murray whelan novel. the author's info said he's at work on the next one. this has made me want to read some sam spade stories. must hit the library tomorrow!

Friday, April 14, 2006

 

Book 19: Gentlemen and Players


This is the second book by Joanne Harris I've read this year. You might recall I didn't particularly enjoy the last one. This one was much better. Similar to her previous novels "Holy Fools" and "Five Quarters of the Orange", "Gentlemen and Players" is a bit of a mystery thriller, a bit of sinister revenge, and in this case a bit of Mr. Chips. The story unfolds on the campus of St. Oswald's, a prestigious school for boys both in the present and fifteen years in the past. Our hero is Mr. Straitley, aging Latin master and fond teacher of boys for over thirty years. When a new teacher sets out to destroy the school we learn more dark secrets of the school's past. Okay, that sounded perhaps like the description off the book jacket...but I was hoping to make it interesting. i gave this book a smiley face.

I would recommend most of Harris' books. They are, to some degree, a bit dark, as I believe I've cautioned before. But if you like entering into another world with great characterization and suspenseful if a little slow-moving plot, these are a good read. After finishing this book last night I was a little sad...wondering what will I read next? Will I get sucked into another world again? I hope so! St. Oswald's campus is charming and the world of the english prep school, complete with school uniforms, teaching gowns and dormitories is quite endearing. Great read. Now I have an Australian mystery to read! Happy Easter everyone.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

#17: The Broker


I heart John Grisham. The first book I ever read by him was The Firm and I've probably read it 5 or 6 times. Almost everytime I read one of his books I love it. If I don't love it, I at least like it. This afternoon at school I finished reading Grisham's most recent book, The Broker, and I was not disappointed.

This story line wasn't Grisham's typical law firm/lawyer/trial based story, but it was an interesting story. The basic idea is this...A formerly powerful broker, Joel Backman, was imprisoned for 6 years and then pardoned by the president 14 years early because of the CIA's interest in his case. Specifically, the CIA was interested in the information Backman had obtained about one of the world's most sophisticated satellite systems. The catch was the CIA wasn't planning on getting any information from Backman but was waiting to see who killed Backman. The nationality of the assassins would give the CIA the information they needed. I'm not going to tell you anymore about what happened...you'll just have to read it and find out yourself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

Book 18: A Farewell To Arms


am motoring along with my books. am pleased to announce that i'm almost finished another, you doubting thomases. i anticipate reading quite a bit over the summer, so i will catch up, eventually. figured i should continue to read more of the classics. i like ernest hemingway. i especially like the idea of him- world traveler, adventurer and brilliant artist. i would like to aspire to such heights of genius. so i think i enjoyed this book. reading hemingway is always a bit depressing. in spite of his spectacular description of the italian countryside and the battles of world war one, there is gloom on every page. and with good reason, i suppose. the reader is thrown into a world of terrible uncertainty. catherine and frederick, our main characters, are ridiculously insecure. "oh darling, do you still love me? i'm such a wretched wife! you'll probably abandon me once i get fat!" most of the dialogue proceeds in that vein. however, both of them have watched the civilized world, or what they thought was civilized, crumble around them, proving that nothing is secure, nothing lasts forever. in the absence of order and sanity around them, they look towards others to find that sense of stability, oftentimes to see that hope die with their friend. it's an awful thing, to see everyone around you perish. i wouldn't know, but i can't imagine what kind of outlook on life such life experiences would produce. what is hemingway's final thesis? am not quite sure. it would seem that he is saying nothing is reliable, only the self. inevitably all else fails and things generally end badly, all the time. sad. i gave this book a smiley face.

Monday, April 10, 2006

 

Book 17: Sin City: The Big Fat Kill


So this is the third installment of this graphic novel series. Not too much to say on this one. Again, I've enjoyed these books despite their somewhat horrific content. If you've seen the movie, you know the outline of this one. In it our hero from "A Dame to Kill For", Dwight McCarthy, is saving the girls of Old Town from the cops and the mob. I found this one less gross than the previous two I've read, a fact for which I was grateful. Not sure if I will be able to read any more as my library has no further installments. I did read that they are making a second movie, and I will look forward to that. Now I'm off to some books by Australians. Or just atlases. How frustrating! Cannot get picture to post. will try later.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

 

#16: Call of the Mall

Its my turn to review a book that Jerusha has already read this year. When Jerusha picked up Call of the Mall by Paco Underhill at the library while I was visiting her I also was intrigued by the title and wanted to read the book. So, I found it at my local library and gave it a read. The book was pretty good and I enjoyed reading some facts and ideas about store displays, decorations, organization, flow of the store and the like. It was also interesting to think about Underhill's ideas to improve mall sales and user friendliness once inside the mall. Call of the Mall was pretty good but as Jerusha said in her review the book was more focused on how to make more money if you have a store in the mall the than ideas concerning why we shop at malls. Finally, I am convinced that Underhill had some kind of subliminal message in his book enticing readers to go to the mall because I visited the mall twice this weekend while I was reading the book. I haven't been to my local mall more than once or twice since Sept.

Friday, April 07, 2006

 

Book 16: In A Sunburned Country


Excellent, excellent book. Hands down a star on the rating chart. I am now obessed with Australia. I want to go there, wear 'I Heart Australia' t-shirts, have a baby wombat as a pet and run away with mysterious Australian men. Note, I still have no idea what a wombat is, some kind of small fuzzy creature, I believe, and Australia t-shirts are more scarce and expensive on the internet than you would think. Super Anne and I are going to try and read some of the same books so that you, dear reader, have the pleasure of differing view, so here is our first.

This book is nothing short of delightful. After living in England for twenty years, Bill Bryson writes with the dry humor so typical of the British and as he explains the marvels of the only continent that's an island and a country he take thes reader on a hilarious roadtrip across the outback. Australia sounds ridiculous... and I cannot wait to go. (We've decided to start saving our money for a 2008 trip) Bryson guides us into the murderous outback, to the posh and modern cities of Melbourne and Sydney and into the steamy tropic of Queensland, where the people are "madder than cut snakes." I have no earthly idea what that means, but it sounds fabulous and I simply must start incorporating that phrase into my vocabulary. We go everywhere in Australia with him and he doesn't disappoint in any place. I have a burning desire to rent movies about Australia, stare at an atlas and learn everything I can about this crazy place. Bryson is such an enjoyable and knowledgable author that I wouldn't hesistate to recommend him. I am unsure if I want to read his other books, simply because I'm not sure I'm ready to begin another ridiculous infatuation with any other place. I just want to love Australia.

I'm just not sure how to describe this book and properly review it. You just have to read it, it's that good. As my co-reviewer did, I think I'll simply leave you with some of my favorite parts. In describing a friend, in whom I hope we find the typical Australian male, he writes: "Howe's idea of a whole-body workout was to drink a beer standing up." I particulary enjoyed the chapter on Ned Kelly, a ruffian immortalized by the Australian people for no reason whatsoever, not surprising based on Bryson's observations. I do think I'll watch the Heath Ledger movie about him tonight. But here's one final bit which I hope you enjoy.

"One of the more cherishable peculiarities of Australians is that they like to build big things in the shape of other things. Give them a bale of chicken wire, some fiberglass, and a couple of pots of paint and they will make you, say an enormous pineapple or strawberry or, as here, a lobster...Some 60 of these objects are scattered across the Australian landscape, like leftover props from a 1950s horror movie. You can, if you have sufficient gas money and nothing approaching a real life, visit a Big Prawn, a Big Koala, a Big Oyster (with searchlights for eyes, apparently) a Big Lawn Mower, a Big Marlin, a Big Orange, and a Big Merino Ram, among others." Madder than cut snakes, I tell you.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

 

#15: Cell

Not being a fan of the horror-flick and as I found out this week not being a fan of then horror-novel, I didn't really enjoy the book Cell by Stephen King. This book was the 2nd book of the year that was recommended to me by a student so I figured I should give it a read. The premise of the novel is that a terrorist, or something, sent a devastating, chaos ensuing pulse through cell phones all over the world. Those who had cell phones became phone-crazies. Those who did not or were fortunate enough not to use their phone were normies. The majority of the book was a lot of walking/hiking, telepathy, violence and gore all mixed into one weird story of survival.

With characters like Raggedy Man, phoners, phone-crazies, normies, Gunner, and many other crazy names, I often felt like a crazy person myself while reading this book because it was so weird. I don' t know how to judge a horror book, so if you are fan of them maybe you would like this book. But for me, I'm not sure I want to read a Stephen King book again.

Monday, April 03, 2006

 

Book 15: The Big Bad Wolf


For those of you who don't remember, let me review my rating system. Ever since i can remember, well, not that long but for a while, i have kept a list of all the books i read in a year and rate them. there are four possibilities: a star, a smile, a squiggle and a dot. the star says "excellent book. if you don't want to be a total philistine, you simply must read it!" smile means "this was good. an enjoyable read, interesting and i would recommend." squiggle isn't bad, it just says "this was okay. i feel kind of ambivalent." then the dot. that is to mean "this book was not very good, i wasted my time and my eyeball power struggling not to fall asleep while reading. don't bother." so that's the system. i realize five ratings might be a more balanced approach, as there is some large disparity between "okay" and "dreadful", but i still can't think of an inbetween choice. bummer.

so, i read my first james patterson novel. i love mysteries and easy reads, so i was not disappointed. it was fast-paced and suspenseful. i am not sure it was his best, but then again, how do i know? the subject was a little disconcerting. now most books about murder are, but this one more so. it was about people being kidnapped and sold as sex slaves. somehow i didn't want to know, but it didn't mention that on the jacket flap. creepy. sadly, there wasn't much resolution at the end of the book; a feature that i liked and disliked. of course i want closure, and yet patterson didn't give us the typical happy ending. that he left our tale open-ended was enjoyable too. things in life aren't always neat and tidy; the story reflected this. so i gave this book a squiggle. okay, good fast read, nothing mind-blowing.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

#14: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


After reading Wicked I decided I should read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I am happy to report it was wonderful. The foursome traveling to meet the wizard were even more endearing in the book than in the movie we are all familiar with. The book was cute and made me smile and laugh a lot. L. Frank Baum has an imagination that created a land and a story that kids and adults have enjoyed and will enjoy for years to come. Since most people know the story so well I won't comment much on it. Like most books later made into movies the book tells the story so much better. As I was reading the book I kept thinking it would be so fun to read this book to a child, especially one who doesn't know the story already. Read this story to a child if you can, but if you don't have that opportunity read it for yourself.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

 

Book 14: The Hottest State


so i found this at the library. it's by ethan hawke, the actor. i usually enjoy his movies, so i picked it up. ARRGGGHHH. this book was just dumb. we follow william, a young actor in new york city as he loafs and sleeps his way through life and women. i suppose this could be a coming of age story as we watch him learn about love and heartbreak, but i found it to be unoriginal and tiresome. it seems that there are plenty of movies and books out there about people my age-ish who are finding themselves, yet rarely do they truly have anything to say. i'm not sure i want to be inside william's head as he whines about the girl he can't have. probably because my own life is sad and pathetic enough: i work all the time, don't get asked out on dates and live in northeastern Ohio, for heaven's sake. i think i would rather escape into a fantasy land filled with magic and adventure rather than be confronted with my own inablitiy to take charge of my life. but maybe that's just what hawke intended; to cause us to examine our own shortcomings and disappointments and then do something productive about them. but don't bother. it was dull and i gave it a dot. the lowest one. sorry.

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