Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pearls

Note: Having a library card, while making you awesome, will not get you tasty zebra meat.

Book 53: The Diplomat's Wife

TITLE: The Diplomat's Wife
AUTHOR: Pam Jenoff
STARTED: October 16, 2008
FINISHED: October 22, 2008
PAGES: 360
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I do not know how many hours or days I have lain on this cold, hard floor, waiting to die.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Jenoff's stirring sequel to her debut, The Kommandant's Girl, chronicles the perilous post-WWII adventures of Marta Nederman, a member of the Polish resistance and best friend of the earlier book's heroine. When the Allies liberate Dachau, where Marta has been imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, Paul Mattison, a handsome American soldier, tenderly gives the weakened Marta a drink of water. Later, at a refugee camp outside Salzburg, Austria, Marta befriends Rose, another recovering survivor. After Rose's sudden death, Marta is able to use Rose's visa to travel to London. When en route Marta runs into Paul in Paris, the passion between the pair ignites. They promise to meet in two weeks, but tragedy ensues when Paul's plane crashes in the English Channel. Pregnant with Paul's baby, Marta marries Simon Gold, a British diplomat. Two years later, Marta goes on a dangerous mission to Poland, where a Communist takeover is imminent and where the seesaw plot takes more than one surprise twist.

THOUGHTS: Jenoff's writing is still as visual as ever, but the characters were lacking depth and emotion in this second novel. Once again, I found myself easily seeing this book becoming a movie - a cinematographer would have a field day with this narrative. The writing was rich, the scenes were vibrant, and, most of all, the writing made the book feel alive. Unfortunately, the characters came across as stock room extras, pulled to fill in the scenes. I had an extraordinarily hard time believing and of the chemistry and motivations (good and bad). I bless Jenoff for actually giving Marta a spine - she goes through really rough times and never does she bend or whine incessantly.

And the twist.... saw it coming from a mile away. That same twist, in an odd way worked... until there was a twist to the twist... then it was just silly.

I like Jenoff's writing style, but this was definitely a sophomore slump.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tease 6

Bear hunt successful.

Signage successful.

Conclusion to my endless teases, forthcoming.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book 52: Shadows on the Aegean

TITLE: Shadows on the Aegean
AUTHOR: Suzanne Frank
STARTED: October 5, 2008
FINISHED: October 16, 2008
PAGES: 612
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: The world exploded in light and I felt myself freed - the constraints of skin, blood, and bone slipped away and I knew that the core of my person, my ka, had left its ancient Egyptian shell.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Chloe Kingsley expected to wake up in 1997; instead, fate and a rip in the fabric of time-space are sending Chloe to a mysterious ancient culture, another woman's body, and an enormous test of her love for Cheftu the physician. In Aztlan, an advanced civilization set on a volcanic isle in the Aegean, Chloe becomes Sibylla, a prophetess about to enter the political arena and ceremonial bull rings of a dazzling, decadent kingdom. Soon enmeshed in a royal power struggle and a contest to become the consort of Phoebus Apollo, a charismatic young prince, Chloe is threatened by palace schemes and deadly passions. Though her outward appearance is changed, undeniable love draws Chloe and Cheftu together again. Visions of a terrifying catastrophe inspire Chloe and Cheftu to desperately try to save Aztlan from utter destruction. But already the rumblings of doom are shaking a glorious culture that created labyrinths and a new panoply of gods, as two lovers, sworn to be together for eternity, are torn apart by cruel rituals, twisted ambition ... and heinous murder.

THOUGHTS: I didn't know what was going on for half of this book, but darned if I can't wait to read the next one in the series. Frank made it very hard to keep a mental whose-who list going with this novel; there were too many names and overlapping relationships. Sometimes I was so confused I made two characters into one, and one character into two. The world building and "huh, interesting" moments of the book kept it afloat, but just barely.

RATING: 3/10 [Poor, Lost Interest]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

All Aboard


Servicing Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Reference Desk.

Tease 5

With the help of two minions... the secret project nears it's end.

Now if only I could get my hands on that teddy bear.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Useful Things: Word Spy

As my old algebra teacher was found of saying, "You gotta learn the lingo." I still don't know what that has to do with math, but it makes sense for reading the paper and existing in a world of pop culture.

Word Spy
is "devoted to lexpionage." That is, they find and define words and phrases that have gained popularity in the current culture. The goal of Word Spy is to define the item while providing a history of its appearance and development in culture.

It's a simple site - providing a search engine and some word list links - but it makes finding out what a mullet strategy is so much easier.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tease 4

Today: Black Construction Paper
Tomorrow: Nail Hole Filler

Almost there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book 51: Shooting War

TITLE: Shooting War
AUTHOR: Anthony Lappe
STARTED: October 2, 2008
FINISHED: October 4, 2008
PAGES: 192
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: My name is Jimmy Burns.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] The global war on terror is raging out of control. The president is popping Prozac. And the #1 selling videogame in 2011 America is the terrorist-simulator Infidel Massacre: Los Angeles. On the streets of gentrified Brooklyn, videoblogger Jimmy Burns' latest anti-corporate rant is cut short by a terrorist bombing of a Starbucks...but his live feed isn't. When his dramatic footage is uploaded by Global News ("Your home for 24-hour terror coverage") and rebroadcast across the planet, the obscure blogger is transformed into an overnight media sensation. The next thing he knows he's on a Black Hawk helicopter inbound for Baghdad, working for the same mainstream media monster he once loathed. Burns soon finds that everyone from his ratings-ravenous network overlords to Special Ops troops with messianic complexes to a charismatic band of tech-savvy jihadists all want to make him their pawn.

THOUGHTS: This novel was terrifying. It was fantastically good... but terrifying. Lappe offers a "What if?" future of the Iraq conflict - a future that is all to easy to imagine. What if McCain becomes president and views Iraq as a way to win in Vietnam? What if Iran intervenes? What if McCain's soldier son is kidnapped? What if there are suicide bombers in New York City? Lappe covers all of these stories and more in Shooting War. It's a gripping read that is only made more intense by the bold art of the book. I would read it again... but if Obama becomes President.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Book 50: Anne of the Island

TITLE: Anne of the Island
AUTHOR: L.M. Montgomery
STARTED: September 26, 2008
FINISHED: September 30, 2008
PAGES: 243
GENRE: Juvenile

FIRST SENTENCE: "Harvest is ended and summer is gone," quoted Anne Shirley, gazing across the shorn fields dreamily.

SUMMARY: [From barnesandnoble.com] Anne Shirley is all grown up and ready to embark on her college career at Redmond. She is torn between leaving her beloved Prince Edward Island and the childhood haunts that have been home for so many years. Anne quickly, yet almost reluctantly, becomes accustomed to life at Redmond; she and old friend Priscilla fall into friendship with socialite Phillippa Gordon. The trio pal around with P.E.I. boys Charlie Stone and Gilbert Blythe, who both appear to have their intentions set on marriage to Anne. Gilbert has long been Anne's childhood chum and remains Anne's old standby at Redmond. Gilbert and Anne are nearly inseparable. Marriage is assumed to be a certainty by those on P.E.I. and at Redmond—until Anne rebuffs his advances and rejects his proposal of marriage. Anne finds joy in her homey college cottage, "Patty's Place," which she shares with her dear friends. The girls cope with proposals, boys, and college life as Anne finds that romance and love may not be what she had expected.

THOUGHTS: At first blush, this book was not a fantastic read for me. I enjoyed it, sure, but it did not give me that "Oh my goodness, why did I not read this as a kid!" feeling. Then, during book club, as we were talking about the novel, I just recalled the high number of emotional reactions I had to the story. I still maintain that I do not mind missing this as a child, but I'm glad I've caught up with Anne now - at least this one time.

For me, Anne of the Island comes to me in a series of vignettes. The story is good, but singular moments in the story is what makes me think fondly of the story. The cats, Anne wearing Gilbert's flowers, the marriage proposals - all of these scenes caused me to react in some way. There were numerous scenes in this book that made me giggle, smile, or scoff as a read. The more noise I make out loud, the more likely I am to think of the book after I've read it. Anne is not a girl I desire to be, but her story is fun. I'm sure I would have enjoyed reading this more if I had read it as a child - or read the first two books in the series - but I liked this book enough to actually think about reading the other parts of the series.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Political Reading

Wouldn't be great to have a President who reads?

I know that this is merely an image of a man surrounded by filed works, but I agree with the analysis. Obama comes across as a literate, educated man - one who has a command of knowledge... or, lacking a command, would know where to turn in order to find the answers.

I still can't get over the fact that our current First Lady is a librarian and, yet, her husband seems to have a second rate command of the English language.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tease 2

Today I played with a sharp object. Then I sand papered foam core.

Are you intrigued yet? Check back soon.