Friday, July 31, 2015

Book 15: Island of the Blue Dolphins

TITLE: Island of the Blue Dolphins
AUTHOR: Scott O'Dell
STARTED: July 5, 2015
FINISHED: July 7, 2015
PAGES: 184
GENRE: Young Adult

FIRST SENTENCE: I remember the day the Aleut ship came to our island.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Scott O’Dell won the Newbery Medal in 1961 for his unforgettable novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, based on the true story of a NicoleƱo Indian girl living in solitude between 1835 and 1853 on San Nicolas Island, only seventy miles off the coast of Southern California. His quietly gripping tale of Karana’s survival, strength, and courage—and vivid descriptions of island life—has captivated readers for decades. This 50th anniversary edition features an introduction by two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry.

THOUGHTS: I picked up this book because I had an itch to re-read it. I loved this O'Dell work as a kid, and it still holds up. The emotional impact of the story is still there. I still sniffled at the same scenes and Karana's strength impressed me all over again. This is a book I will always recommend.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

The Friday Find: Look Up

There is a Starbucks on the campus of George Mason that looks like this.

This beautiful place has coffee and has book art that look like an enchantment out of Harry Potter. I think I might need to visit.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Variations on a Theme: British Royalty

This month's Variations on a Theme is inspired by the book I devoured like junk food, The Royal We. I've been a British royal watcher since I was young, and I continue to follow the family today. Lady K says we fought a war to ignore this sort of stuff, but I can't quit them. Here are some books about the British Royals.

William and Kate: A Royal Love Story
Christopher Anderson

Theirs was destined from the start to be one of the most celebrated unions of the twenty-first century: he, the charismatic prince who would someday be crowned king of England; she, the stunningly beautiful commoner who won his heart. Prince William and Kate Middleton defied all odds to forge a storybook romance amid the scandals, power struggles, tragedies, and general dysfunction that are the hallmarks of Britain’s Royal Family. In the process, they became the most written about, gossiped about, admired, and envied young couple of their generation. Yet for most of their nearly decade-long affair, William and Kate have remained famously quiet and kept their royal relationship a tantalizing mystery. Now, journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author Christopher Andersen reveals the intimate details of their celebrated courtship and offers a mesmerizing glimpse of the man and wife—and future king and queen—they will become.

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch
Sally Bedell Smith

From the moment of her ascension to the throne at age twenty-five, Queen Elizabeth II has been the object of unparalleled admiration and scrutiny. But through the fog of glamour and gossip, how well do we really know the world’s most famous monarch? Drawing on numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, acclaimed biographer Sally Bedell Smith pulls back the curtain to show in extraordinary detail the public and private lives of one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic women. In Elizabeth the Queen, we meet the young girl who suddenly becomes “heiress presumptive” when her uncle abdicates the throne. We see the young Queen struggling to balance the demands of her job with her role as the mother of two young children. And we gain insight into the Queen’s daily routines, as well as her personal relationships: with Prince Philip, her husband of sixty-four years and the love of her life, her children and their often-disastrous marriages, her grandchildren and friends.

Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion
Anne Somerset

She ascended the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, at age thirty-seven, Britain’s last Stuart monarch, and five years later united two of her realms, England and Scotland, as a sovereign state, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain. She had a history of personal misfortune, overcoming ill health (she suffered from crippling arthritis; by the time she became Queen she was a virtual invalid) and living through seventeen miscarriages, stillbirths, and premature births in seventeen years. By the end of her comparatively short twelve-year reign, Britain had emerged as a great power; the succession of outstanding victories won by her general, John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, had humbled France and laid the foundations for Britain’s future naval and colonial supremacy.

The Royals
Kitty Kelley

They are the most chronicled family on the face of the globe. Their every move attracts headlines. Scores of books have tried and failed to penetrate the royal facade. Now Kitty Kelley has gone behind palace walls to provide the first three-dimensional, comprehensive, and evenhanded portrait of the men and women who make up the British Royal family. Kelley spent more than four years investigating the royal family. In addition to meticulous research into documented sources, she conducted hundreds of exclusive interviews with past and present employees of the royal household, royal friends and relations, courtiers, members of Parliament, and other intimate observers, raising the curtain on this most secretive family. Here are lonely royal children brought up without a proper education in isolated and artificial surroundings, twentieth-century adolescents with nineteenth-century touchstones. Here are the sexual ambiguities, the alcoholism, gambling, and womanizing that were common in the House of Windsor long before Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. No one is spared; here are the scandals of the last decades: the doomed marriages, and the husbands, wives, lovers and children caught in their wake and damaged beyond repair.

Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words
Andrew Morton

The sudden and tragic death of Princess Diana caused the world to reflect on how much this singular woman meant to us all. This new edition of her life story — which includes Diana's personal recollections in her own words, as well as an account of the events surrounding her death — poignantly strengthens her hold on our hearts. From her fairy-tale wedding and the births of her two wonderful boys to the stunning collapse of her marriage, Diana's luminous but troubled life transfixed millions. Despite enduring heartbreak, illness, and depression, she never wavered in her commitment to the less fortunate, or in her determination to make a better life for herself and her sons. This revealing book is the closest we will ever come to her autobiography — a lasting and powerful testament to her courage and spirit.

Henry VII: The King and His Court
Alison Weir

Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power and celebrated for his intellect, presided over one of the most magnificent–and dangerous–courts in Renaissance Europe. Never before has a detailed, personal biography of this charismatic monarch been set against the cultural, social, and political background of his glittering court. Now Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of the King. Packed with colorful description, meticulous in historical detail, rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir brilliantly renders King Henry VIII, his court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. The result is an absolutely spellbinding read. 

Other British Royal Titles
Born to be King: Prince Charles on Planet Windsor - Catherine Mayer
The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen - Susan Bordo
The Diana Chronicles - Tina Brown
Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne - David Starkey
Elizabeth York: A Tudor Queen and Her World - Alison Weir
Kate: The Future Queen - Katie Nicholl
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn - Alison Weir
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England - Dan Jones
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII - David Starkey
Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I - Peter Ackroyd
Victoria: A Life - A.N. Wilson

Links and Stuff: July 30, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book 14: The Art of Eating In

TITLE: The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove
AUTHOR: Cathy Erway
STARTED: June 21, 2015
FINISHED: July 5, 2015
PAGES: 322
GENRE: Memoir / Food

FIRST SENTENCE: A few years ago when my friend Ari was apartment hunting, she was shown a two-bedroom in Brooklyn with plenty of sunlight, a patio, a nicely sized bathroom, and a tall industrial sink in one corner of the living room.

SUMMARY: [From BN]  In the city where dining out is a sport, one daring gourmand swears off restaurants and commits to cooking at home in a manifesto for a new generation of conscientious eaters. Named one of Publishers Weekly's most exciting cookbook deals, Cathy Erway's timely memoir of quitting restaurants cold turkey speaks to a new era of conscientious eating. An underpaid, twentysomething executive assistant in New York City, she was struggling to make ends meet when she decided to embark on a Walden-esque retreat from the high-priced eateries that drained her wallet. The Art of Eating In reports on the delectable results of her twenty-four-month experiment, with thirty original recipes included.  What began as a way to save money left Erway with a new appreciation for the simple pleasure of sharing a meal with friends at home, a trove of original recipes, and a greater awareness of take-out food waste and whether her ingredients were ethically grown. She also explored the antirestaurant underground of supper clubs and cook-offs, and immersed herself in an array of alternative eating lifestyles from freeganism to picking tasty greens in the park. The Art of Eating In is a personal journey that transforms the reader as it transformed the writer, about the joy of getting back in the kitchen and turning something seemingly ordinary into something completely extraordinary.

THOUGHTS: I don't know what I was expecting to read when I started this book, but it was not what I ended up reading... and that was okay. In fact, I think this book ended up being better than what I was expecting.

I was a touch annoyed that this was clearly a contrived idea (as many current food memoirs seem to be), but Erway manages to pull it off. I enjoyed how she explored all manor of ways of not eating out that go beyond simply cooking at home. I also liked how she was honest about the impact her decision had on her personal life. She stuck to her idea and managed to pull it off. Erway comes across as a complete hipster, but her self-awareness and openness meant I wasn't annoyed by how forced the concept of this book was.

Erway also has an addictive writing style. It was simple, but still managed to capture all the sights, sounds, and smells of the scenes she recounts. I enjoyed her writing so much that I added her blog feed to my reader.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book 13: Adultery

TITLE: Adultery
AUTHOR: Paulo Coelho
STARTED: June 5, 2015
FINISHED: June 21, 2015
PAGES: 257
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Every morning, when I open my eyes to the so-called "new day," I feel like closing them again, staying in bed, and not getting up.

SUMMARY: [From BNAdultery, the provocative new novel by Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, explores the question of what it means to live life fully and happily, finding the balance between life's routine and the desire for something new. 

THOUGHTS: I grabbed this book from the library because it was on my Books to Read Pinterest board. I have no recollection of what made me pin that book, but it turned out to be an interesting read. It's been a month since I finished this book, but the emotional journey of the story has stuck with me. I didn't find this book to be a revelation or anything, but I enjoyed the realistic feeling journey Coelho but his main character on. The plot and characters felt quite real, and it was interesting to see the consequences of the choices they made.

I thought I would dislike the characters because this is a story about adultery, but I did not find that to be the case at all. In many ways, I felt sympathy for them. I was not expecting to have that reaction and it allowed me to enjoy the book a bit more.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I Read This Week: July 26, 2015

As a belated birthday treat to myself, I had my first ever facial on Friday. It was quite the delicious bit of pampering. I think I shall go again.
  • Work
    • I flipped through the main highlights from this year's annual ALA conference. I'm bummed that I can't make the annual conference every year, but I'm glad they send out the wrap up notes. 
    • I perused the July/August 2015 issue of College and Research Libraries News. Most of the articles were about library renovation and the use of space which I always find interesting. I also enjoyed the piece of developing a strategic vision at the GW libraries. Always nice to see what is going on with the libraries in our consortium.
  • Books
    • I motored through The Royal We like I was chowing down on cheez balls. It was amazing and I have no regrets staying up until 3am two nights in a row to finish it. None at all.
    • Since I finished the above book so quickly, I was able to start my next selection from the library, In Search of the Perfect Loaf. I'm only a chapter in so far but it's great. I also want to eat every crusty loaf in sight.
  • Other
    • I don't know if this counts as reading, but The Husband gave me colored pencils and The Secret Garden coloring book for my birthday. I started working on a page. Man did I miss this.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Friday Find: Puppeh!

Don't forget your pets when you're celebrating your book love. With this awesome puffy bed, you can snuggle with your puppy and your books.

Buy this crash pad from Sugarboo & Co.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why I Love... Re-Reading Childhood Favorites

After taking an unexpected summer break from this feature, I come back to you to discuss why I absolutely love re-reading childhood favorites.

Earlier this summer, I had this massive urge to re-read Island of the Blue Dolphins. I have no idea where it came from, but I decided to pick up the book from the library and give it a nice, nostalgic re-read. Aside from greatly enjoying my re-read, those nights buried in some of my favorite childhood pages reminded me why I love re-reading those books.

Every page is a trip down memory lane. I remember where I was when I read the book the first time. I remember how I felt discovering those characters and scenes. I remember how I would share my joy with friends and family. Re-reading those books is an instant remember when moment that brings back nothing but good memories.

In addition, it also gives me a chance to see what those books mean to me now. Do they hold up? Does my life experience change how I view the book? Emotionally, do I react differently? Some books are exactly the same; others feel completely different.

Each re-read is a new trip, and I love every moment of it.

Book 12: Managing Change

TITLE: Managing Change: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians
AUTHOR: Susan Carol Curzon
STARTED: June 10, 2015
FINISHED: June 18, 2015
PAGES: 129
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the Preface] Change is the constant companion of every library and information manager.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon] In this revised edition of a book published in 1989, Curzon takes managers through the process of leading an organization through change. In part 1, chapters on conceptualizing, planning, and preparing for change; managing individuals and controlling resistance; and implementing and evaluating change contain step-by-step guidance. A concluding chapter lists 15 key points for success. In part 2, a new series of 15 "change scenarios" related to budget cuts, cataloging backlogs, unruly students, outsourcing, "accepting a wealthy donor's useless collection," and other common situations provides very practical advice. The real-world approach makes the book a valuable addition to the professional collection.

THOUGHTS: The library I work out is undergoing quite a bit of staff change at the moment. I picked up this book because I thought it would be useful. There were a few practical tips, but I found this book to contain mostly common sense things. That said, I thought it was well organized and would be great for new managers.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What I Read This Week: July 19, 2015

When this auto-posts I will be boarding a boat with friends for a brunchy booze cruise. This outing is to celebrate my birthday. Woot! My actual birthday is tomorrow, but who can say no to eating breakfast foods on a boat that shows you the monuments of DC? Normally, I just do a simple dinner or drinks outing for my birthday, but this year I wanted to do something fun. Hat tip to The Husband for planning and organizing everything.
  • Magazines
    • The Atlantic, July/August 2015 - It took me almost two weeks of commutes to read this issue because I read every single word. Instead of recommending specific articles, I really out to just say it's all worth it. That said, I do want to point out that the three feature pieces on a world without work, babies in prison, and Saudi Arabia going solar are just fantastic.  
    • National Geographic, July 2015 - I read the cover story about Pluto the day after New Horizons released it's first images from the flyby. What timing! Aside from that bit of fun, I also enjoyed the article on tracking down the host of the ebola virus. It's a fascinating and important bit of detective work.
  • Books
    • Who takes more than a week to read a play. This girl! But I finally finished Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in time to pick up my new book from the library. I love it when a hold you requested from the library comes in at the absolute perfect time.
    • That new book? Why it's just a deliciously light reading (but larger than anticipated in actual size) novel called The Royal We. I am a huge royal watcher (namely of Kate Middleton's wardrobe), so this book has been on my TBR list since it was released. I have no expectations for this book, but so far I am enjoying what few pages I have read.
  • Other
    • The Husband and I kind of geek out about space from time to time, so the New Horizons Pluto flyby was on our radar all week. Time posted a wonderful article about why this mission matters. In that same vain, The Guardian posted 10 awesome facts about the mission.
    • I may no secret of the fact that I think Hillary Clinton is awesome. So, this piece from The New York Times on her re-re-re-reintroduction is right up my alley.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Friday Find: Booked

Hat tip for Lady KS for showing me the link to this majestic item. And by majestic, I mean it is the perfect lounge-wear item for a bibliophile and I have already ordered myself one.

You can purchase your own from Human.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What I Read This Week: July 12, 2015

If you have not seen Inside Out yet, get thee to a theatre. It was an ah-mazing movie. Also, thus continues the trend of Lady K and I having movie dates where we end up weeping through half the flick. These things should come with tissues.
  • Books
    • I started and finished the young adult classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins, this week. It holds up just as well as I expected it would.
    • In an effort to cross some things off the 2015 reading challenge, I started reading Tennessee Williams play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. You would think I could finish it in one sitting.... but no. For some reason this one is taking me longer than I thought.
  • Other
    • I read an article on Salon about procrastination's sibling, pre-crastination. It is a thing I am guilty of.
    • Salon also posted an opinion piece against the term "maiden name." I took The Husband's last name after we married because he cared and I didn't (that is in the piece). If I cared, I would have kept it. But I can totally get behind not using the term maiden anymore. It is certainly outdated. 
    • Boston suffered through a brutal, snowy winter. The snow pile is still there. An article in The New York Times gives a fascinating insight into the mini-ecosystem. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Friday Find: Camp Out

Are you a bibliophile who also loves the out of doors? Then this week's find is for you. It's a tent designed with book lovers in mind.

Now that is spectacular. You can buy this guy from Field Candy.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

What I Read This Week: July 5, 2015

A touch light on the reading this week. But that's okay cause there was fun stuff like a lecture at the Air and Space museum, celebrating a friend's birthday, and celebrating America's birthday. And puppies! And babies! And so much tasty food. It was a rather all American week.

  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, July 2015 - The main feature in this issue was the article on the "Best Of" DC. I skimmed it, but made a mental note to try a few things. I was more intrigued by the articles on the mysterious life of the author Zane and development of Shark Week. Lastly, it was kind of hilarious that the day I read the article on the how couples handle horrible snoring is the one night The Husband's allergies cause him to snore.
  • Books
    • I'm nearing the end of The Art of Eating In. I'm enjoying this book much more than I thought I would.

Friday, July 03, 2015

The Friday Find: Love Story

After last week's find, this one may seem familiar. It too is a library card, but this one tells a love story. It's so brilliant I want one for myself.

You can find this at Not On High Street.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Links and Stuff: July 2, 2015