Sunday, December 24, 2006

 

#62: The Amber Room


I ended up vetoing all of my short books fro the library and chose this 400 page suspense novel next. Reading The Amber Room was well worth the time. I read another book by Steve Berry earlier this year that I liked and I was just as pleased with this one. The Amber Room is actually the first of his novels but still a great read.

It is a story of art collectors and their employees, former employees of the Soviet Union and their children racing across and searching Europe for the missing art called the Amber Room. Now the book is fiction but the Amber Room is really a missing art and its not just a painting but a whole room made out of amber. The slight element of truth added a bit of wonder to the story. The book was hard to put down and pretty suspenseful. I never would have predicted the ending and I really enjoyed reading the whole thing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

 

Book 78: From Russia With Love


i just finished this book about three minutes ago. i like james bond movies. as long as i can remember, i have. i vaguely remember watching them when i was little, and then during a week my sophomore year in college a friend and i watched all of them in a row. i enjoyed the latest one, and so decided i should actually read at least one of the books. who is the real james bond, as ian fleming intended? this was the earliest one available, and though it's the second movie it's actually the fifth book. i guess it's just like the movie, for those of you who have seen it. a russian spy sets out to seduce bond so some other evil henchman can kill him while traveling through europe on the orient express. but of course, in a lot of whispers and "oh, james," she falls for him. the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, which i found somewhat intriguing. i would agree that the lastest movie, casino royale, does more to capture the author's character. bond thinks and broods quite a bit, he's not always sure of himself and cares about his job, something he never did on celluloid until now. this was an incredibly easy read, and i enjoyed it. i might read some more of them, especially since it's december 22nd and am 22 books away from my goal. as soon as i finish posting i will immediately start something new.

 

#61: Bleachers

I will admit I have wanted to read the book Bleachers by John Grisham for awhile but I chose this one from my bag of library books because it was short. I am actually going to read the books I checked out in order from the shortest to the longest so I can get my numbers up before 2007.

Anyway, Bleachers was a good book by Grisham, although not his typical lawyer book. It was the story of a legendary high school football coach and all of his players. When the coach, Eddie Rake, was just days away from death many of his players from 34 seasons of coaching came back to pay their respects and go to his funeral. The main character Neely Crenshaw, and all-American quarterback, came back to his town after 15 years and has to fight some of his memories from his football days. It was easy to get into the story and enjoy the characters. Overall: good book.

 

#60: How the Irish Saved Civilization


My aunt and uncle recently took a 3 week trip to Ireland to visit some long lost (they weren't really lost because my Grandparents have visited them and they write frequently) relatives and enjoy learning a little more about the country that my Grandma's parents came from. During their trip they picked up a few good books and recommended them to me. The first one that I was most intrigued by is called How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. This is actually the first book in a series called The Hinges of History. Cahill's goal in this series it to retell the story of Western civilization through a series of stories about "great gift-givers" or those who aided civilization in getting to where it is today through their culture and passions.

This book was interesting, thoughtful, intelligent, and sometimes even difficult to read. Cahill shared the story of what drove the Irish to become great and even powerful missionaries of Christianity. He also explained their interest in literature, specifically Christian literature, during the Dark Ages. If it weren't for their desire for knowledge and making copies of books, Western civilization may have lost great pieces of literature. The reason the book was sometimes difficult to read was the historical names and literature pieces that the author mentioned were often foreign to me. But I actually read this book while I was giving finals and sitting by my computer at school so I was able to look up anything I didn't know on the Internet. Don't worry I still kept alert and watched for cheaters. I learned a lot of history about Europe, St. Patrick, about literature, and Ireland's role in a specific time period of history. This is a great book that I would recommend to anyone.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

 

Book 77: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid


ah, another one by bill bryson. you might as well just stop reading now, because you know i'll recommend it. this was our hero, bill, reminiscing about his boyhood in des moines, iowa. he was, of course, a superhero as the title of the book implies. this was the easiest read by him yet. it was more than just his tale of growing up; it was a nostalgic look back at what some might consider the golden age of middle america: the fifties. we had just won the war, the economy was booming, many of our cultural mainstays were in full swing and just about everyone was godly and happy. it was a delightful and humorous read. as with all of his books, i had to laugh out loud which last night got me some funny looks on the stationary bike. i think this is what i'll get my dad for christmas. he is only one year younger than bill, also grew up in the midwest, and i'm sure will identify with many more of the experiences. and bill...i'm still waiting for your call. or comment.

 

#59: My Freshman Year

My Freshman Year was an interesting book written by a middle aged professor/anthropologist who decided to go back to school as a freshman to write about college students. She found herself confused by the actions and reactions she got in class from her students so she determined her sabbatical project was going to be going back to school. She actually moved into the dorms, went to freshman orientation and signed up for a normal amount of classes. To protect the students after she wrote the book and to get realistic data, the author changed her name and hid her real identity from students most of the time unless specifically questioned. Having only graduated from college 4.5 years ago myself I didn't find her data all too shocking but I was interested to read her perspective on the American college student. This book was fairly enjoyable and informative so I would recommend it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

 

Book 76: Layer Cake


i really love most things british. maybe that is because of my parents' influence. as i just wrote, we watched a lot of public television growing up, and most of their programming seems to come from the bbc. so when i saw guy ritchie's crime capers about inept cockney criminals, i wanted to see more. so i watched the movie layer cake, produced by the same outfit. it was okay, less funny that the ritchie films, and a bit hard to follow. so i read the book upon which the film is based. it was okay. full of dry humor and more profanities than i have ever encountered in one book. yikes. i don't think i could in good conscience recommend the book due to how much the word f*#@ appears on every single page.

our hero, nameless, is 29 and has been in the london drug business for ten years. he would like to get out by age 30, but the boss, jimmy, has one last job for him. he and his partner, one mister mortimer, go looking for some rich geezer's daughter, try to unload about two million ecstasy pills and avoid the russian mob. oh, and he meets a nice girl on the way. not unlike the film, the book was a bit difficult to follow. i thought it was a little two long, and there was an awful bit of british slang. some i figured out while other words i still have no idea what they mean. clockwork orange was easier than this. it was a fast and easy read, but my eyes did feel a bit beat up, again, due to the prolific cussing. oh well.

 

Book 75: The Headless Bust



Ah, three-quarters of the way finished. even though i will immediately post about book #76 after this, and am almost through book #77, i seriously doubt my ability to finish twenty-three more books in two weeks. sad, i know, but i did my best. i love edward gorey and have since i was little girl. my parents were, and still are, avid fans of pbs' mystery show, which always opened with a cartoon by gorey. he writes small weird books and i recently discovered that a friend of mine also likes edward gorey. he is pretty much the first person outside of my family who has ever heard of him. what a guy. i hope you're reading this and feeling complimented. anyhoo, i read this at his house. yes, it's short but not really a children's book, so it counts. i have also taken the liberty of putting up a picture of the gashlycrumb tinies, an alphabetical exercise of the macabre.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

 

Book 74: His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass


this is the first in a trilogy of fantasy books for children. i've not yet decided if i'll continue. my sister was an education major for a while, and she still might be but i forget. i think she recommended this. it was okay...but i don't usually like fantasy. it always involves strange characters with whom i just don't feel comfortable. lyra is a little girl who lives in oxford, england, but it's not our england. all people have daemons, which are little animals attached to us. i guess they are like the personification, or animal-fication of our souls. lyra and her daemon (i can't spell his name; she calls him pan for short) embark upon an adventure when her father, who until recently she believed to be her uncle, is captured. she is going to rescue him and find out why children around the country are disappearing when they meet a beautiful woman and her monkey daemon. she finds out that they are performing experiments on the children, lord asriel (lyra's dad) is trying to use some kind of dust to bridge to another world and has all sorts of problems. there are witches, balloon aeronauts, armored bears and i thought, a lot of confusion. for a kid's book, it had a pretty mature and frightening message, namely that original sin is something adults make up to keep kids in line. in our "free" society that only wants to do what feels right, i guess it shouldn't surprise me. however, i think it shows a lack of responsibility that iss somewhat disturbing. oh well, it was quick and a pretty easy read.

 

Book 73: Congo


Drat. i just typed about this and then accidentally lost it. will try to remember what i wrote. started out with, wow, i want to read eragon too. am not sure that will happen any time soon. so, i'm hesitant to say this... but i will....this was not my favorite book of the year. it took forever to read because it was such a chore. this was surprising to me because it came highly recommended, and i enjoyed my first crichton novel (see post 13, or something like that). the premise of this book was intriguing as well; a scientific expedition meets something sinister and previously unknown to man in the jungle. oh my, what can this be? let's send another group of inexperienced and self-absorbed people and discover the problem. but then crichton digresses; we have to learn the history of everything he mentions...like gorillas, satellite imaging, computer chips, american sign language and lots of other insignificant (to the story but to me in general) scientifc facts that due to boredom i have blocked from my memory. and then when we finally figure out what's going on, it's kind of anticlimatic and all of a sudden the book is finished. i think he had to write about all those things in great detail because if you take that out the story itself is actually only 7 pages.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

 

#58: Eragon


I've had to ask many of my students to stop reading the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini several time in class. After reading it myself, I understand why they had so much trouble putting it down. It is an extremely well written story that captures the reader from the first page. I decided to read the book because I saw that it was being made into a movie and I enjoyed every page and I can't wait to see the movie. It's the first book of a trilogy written by Paolini. The third book still hasn't been published. I am expecting the 2nd book to be good and I already checked it out from the library. I'm not sure if I'll get it read by the end of this year though so I can't promise a blog entry about it.

Here is a summary I found on Amazon..."Eragon, a young farm boy, finds a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play a decisive part in the coming war between the human but hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. Eragon and his dragon Saphira set out to find their role, growing in magic power and understanding of the complex political situation as they endure perilous travels and sudden battles, dire wounds, capture and escape."

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