February 16th, 2012

Kanye Shrug
  • justfab

Books 7&8

Title: Eat, Pray, Love
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her early 30's, she's married to a man she loves, has a beautiful new home and a rewarding career... and she hates her life. After eight years of marriage, she finds herself crying in her bathroom one night and realizing that she doesn't want to be married anymore. After months of turmoil over this realization, she hears a voice that she can only describe as divine telling her to "go back to bed, Liz." Later on (about two years later), Liz decides to divorce her husband and find herself by traveling to Italy to experience pleasure, India-- for spiritual growth, and Bali for peace.

I decided to read this book because unfortunately (despite Julia Roberts) I found the movie to be boring and I fell asleep on it within the first 20 minutes. While the book is better than the movie, I kind of wondered about someone in their 30's just deciding one night that they don't want to be married anymore. For whatever reason, Gilbert never really touches on why she felt trapped in her marriage, but it was a question that I found puzzling especially because in the middle of her divorce, she jumped into another relationship.

Anyhow, the book is broken up into three parts: Italy, India, and Indonesia (Bali). In Italy, Gilbert experiences pleasure by learning a new language (Italian), making new friends, and eating all the Italian food she can get her hands on. While in Italy she begins the first steps towards healing after a tumultuous divorce with her husband, and rocky post divorce relationship with her on and off again boyfriend, David. From Italy Gilbert travels to India where she lives in an Ashram for several months learning how to meditate and grow closer to "god."

At this point in the story, I found her to be a bit preachy and it felt like a really long lecture on spirituality and a blending of a lot of different religions that she cherry picked in order to create the gospel according to Liz Gilbert. Needless to say, this part of the book was slow. Although, I did enjoy Richard from Texas and learning about some of Indian Culture.

After India, Gilbert than travels to Bali and illegally has her Visa extended so she could stay for 3 extra months and learn how to meditate Bali style from a little Balinese Medicine Man who predicted that she would return to Bali one day to visit him almost two years before her trip. At this juncture of the story, the narrative picks back up a little and became less preachy.

In Bali Liz learns how to meditate with a smile, helps a medicine woman buy a house and yes... jumps back into another relationship. Although, I believe she is now married to this Brazilian fellow.

Over all the book was okay. I liked learning about the different cultures. It was definitely more enjoyable than the movie.

Title: Zombies Don't Cry: Book One In A Living Dead Love Story
Author: Rusty Fischer

Maddy is your typical High School Junior at Barracuda Bay High. Her best friend Hazel is one of the popular kids at school and the hot new guy at school just asked her to a party. Everything is going great for Maddy until she gets stuck by lightening one night and wakes up a Zombie with a hunger for fresh brains.

Zombies was a quick entertaining YA book that I downloaded for free on my Nook (yay free Friday's). I liked Maddy's voice throughout the story. It was humorous and kept me interested through the story although the ending was a bit abrupt and lack luster. I felt that the story and the other characters could have been developed a little bit more and the book felt rushed. The Zombie lore in the book could have also been fleshed out a bit more and consistent. It seemed like Fischer kept changing the "rules" in order to suit the plot of the book.

The book tried to be kind of an antithesis to Twilight, and it succeeded by adding in the humor, but the few love triangles thrown in kind of ruined the effect. And the "love story" also could have been developed a little bit more as well. Over all I think it was a good try for the first time author.

Books 17-19

17. Bad News for Outlaws, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. This book, good for gradeschool age, relates the story of Bass Reeves, a deputy marshal in the days of the Wild West. He was born a slave, but as a deputy marshal, he was known for making more than 3,000 arrests in his three decades of service. A great story on a little-known American hero.

18. Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancy. A good book for high schoolers who are fans of the vampire/zombie/monster genre. This story is set in a world where Monstrumology is a more-or-less accepted field of study (more on the less side). Will Henry has been an apprentice to Dr. Warthrop, a monstrumologist, since the unfortunate death of his parents. The work had always been difficult with the temperamental doctor, whose work schedule and drive in the name of science is bizarre and all-encompassing. Things take a dangerous turn when a grave robber shows up in the wee hours, with a very gruesome find. This is a long but fast-paced book, with great characters. It's interesting the point driven home, that even though the monsters that Will Henry and the doctor pursue are terrifying, sometimes the human "monsters" they work with are worse (it is debatable as to whether the doctor himself falls under this category). Don't try to eat anything while reading it, however, because parts of it have very graphic (and gross) description. The detail that goes into explaining the monster in this book is impressive and well thought out.

19. Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Another good read for high schoolers. Set in a dystopic future on America's gulf coast, the story concentrates on Nailer, a teen who works on a crew that makes their livelihood scavenging metals and other precious materials from the ships in the gulf. One day, he and another of his crew discover a fancy yacht that sank during a recent storm. While looting it, they discover one of the passengers, a girl, is alive. Their decisions about the girl wind up changing their lives in whys they did not foresee. The story is stark, the descriptions paint a brutal world, populated by many who live hand to mouth, hoping only to strike it rich. There are parts that are disturbing, such as when Nailer debates the pros and cons of letting the girl live, versus just quickly killing her.

Book #3: "Steampunk Chic- vintage flair from recycled finds"

(oooh, be careful, I give this ONE star out of five... Ranty McRantyPants mode ON:)

So, when I entered the Public Library, I saw them- Crafting Books. NEW ones.

I had barely even glanced at the cover of "Steampunk Chic- vintage flair from recycled finds" by Jennifer and Kitty O'Neil, when I realized right off, it was going to be a How NOT to make things you WANT to call Steampunk, but are not at ALL Steampunk, thankyouverymuch, kind of book... However, it did have a lot of 'how to assemble this part to that part, using this or that product' stuff included, so I wanted to have a good read.

Notice I said 'wanted to'.

I had a read, but I would not call it a 'good read'.

Mostly I turned pages, read, groaned, read more, ranted quietly, read more, wanted to rant loudly, and then continued this trend untill I wanted to come running over here at 6am in the morning, just to warn you NOT to read this book for advice on 'steampunk' anything, much less 'steampunk chic'...

For one, the advice on use of which products to attach one thing to another is sometimes outright false- they have clearly been PAID to say a product is good for a set use when I have experienced otherwise- and a quick googling online shows I am NOT alone. So. Advice? Not really very useful when it comes to assembly. No. Not at all.

I could write PAGES and PAGES on the display of NOT STEAMPUNK in this book- but we all know that the moment you see the book- because on the front cover is an abomination of the most horrible kind: An unpainted wooden birdhouse with random STUFF glued to it.


So apparently they think that if you take a locking washer (which KIND of looks like a gear) and you glue it to something, then you glue a rhinestone to the center of it, it makes the item STEAMPUNK. (and chic!)

They also seem to feel that keys of any sort (like oh, the one that used to turn on computers, or work in the 'luggage locks' you find at flea markets) can be hung from a string of beads and ribbon and automatically make anything they're tied to, 'Steampunk'.

There seems to be a solid belief there, that if wire, beads, ribbon, and something they found somewhere else all come together, this makes it 'vintage' too. (surprise! Vintage has to do with age or the APPEARANCE of age... not random stuff we all find in our couch cushions during the weekly cleaning...)

One picture teased, showing among the supplies, some old TV vacuum tubes. OH, I thought, THERE we go...

Alas, they strung them with ribbon and wire, like beads, along with random modern cut-keys, and bicone glass beads... *sigh*

Vacuum tubes go IN things...or ON things... you know, like working parts of some curious machine brought across from the other side of the seas? Or wired together with fabric-covered or wire-coil lines, as if they conspire to conjure up ghostly voices from inside the strangely marked boxes you should mount them on.

Please don't bead and ribbon them and hang them from a cheap IKEA chandelier. Please? Everytime someone does that, A Steampunk Author chokes on his or her own spit, and dies.

They have a lovely new thought on vintage watches tho- you cut/bend off the case, and just glue the whole chunk of whatever is inside, onto something. For that "ultimate steampunk look!"... They DO mention you COULD also open the interior case and get some of the gears out and use them, but using the whole chunk-of-whatever thing, they express, is much easier and 'better'...

Not so much, actually. The insides of a watch are pretty boring if you just unscrew the back and pop it out whole. Half the the POINT of Steampunk crafts using watch parts, are to bring that sense of something clockworkish or arcane... not just a block of metal with a few screws in it, and a single edge of a tiny gear barely peeking out of a modern clockface and hidden insides... it's the INSIDES, ladies, that make Steampunk CLICK... and I don't think a broken watch looks "Chic" under any circumstances.

Maybe it's just me, but this book actually raised my blood pressure, and made me want to strangle someone.

Mostly the Authors.

But then again, they DID list in the back where they find things when they 'can't get to the flea market'... does it surprise you that includes ALL the things they showed? Not some, but ALL?

I smell some big marketing monkey and NO Steampunk.

It's sad... so sad... Alas, this is NOT a favourite book, and I really cannot reccomend it to anyone.

Unless you're drunk and in need of a good laugh, perhaps- forgive me O'Neil sisters... but this is not going to be a useful part of anyone's library for anything more than getting the fire started so they can work on something that is REALLY steampunk. ...and possibly chic.
Cat on your Head

Book 4: "Talk to your cat: How to communicate with your Pet"

Although this is titled "Talk to your cat: How to communicate with your Pet" it doesn't actually cover a lot in the way fo 'communicating'. It DOES cover 'reading' your pet, however, and gives some truly fun and interesting background on the modern housecat, where it came from, what variences we know the genetics of, and so on.

This book borrows heavily from bigger, harder to read books on the topic, so it's a great 'overview', a great place to START learning about cat behavior, history, and how the communicate in a general way.

I enjoyed it, it was a comfortable read most of the time, although it was painfully obvious it was written by a european author- some terms don't cross over to the US easily (such as 'Moggie' meaning a 'mutt' cat) but it's easy to grap what it meant in those rare moments.

Fun stuff, if you're just starting to study how cats interact with humans and want to learn more- there's a great list of the books she borrowed from, in the back!

Book #5: Vintage Greeting Cards With Mary Jo Mc Graw:

The Title is a MOUTHFUL: "Vintage Greeting Cards With Mary Jo Mc Graw: Create Timeless Cards Using Family Photos & Keepsakes"

This was an axcellent book for people learning to 'antique' objects or create that vintage look. The Author was especially clear and creative with her explainations, so that even someone quite new to this would be able to pick up her techniques.

I was especially pleased that she gave both brief and in-depth explainations about some products commonly used in creating the vintage look. Glass bits and a gold or silver leafing pen, for example. Her extensive use of Walnut Ink was useful to both beginners and more advanced artists like myself. I learned many new ways to use several different techniques, and had no trouble understanding her explainations!

This would be a great book for both a beginner and a more advanced artist, just jump in there and try- you'll be surprised at how well it works!

(And if you're Into Steampunk, or into any other Historical Artform, you'll take a LOT opf things away from reading this book- lots of tricks that translate into way more than postcards and scrapbook pages!)
zuko, dietotaku

Book #8: The Hunger Games

My eighth book is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. 

This book is fantastic. I've already read the entire series once, so I knew that, but reading it again made me notice little hints to what was going to happen later. Part of the reason I love this book so much is because everything that occurs feels so organic--sure, there are plenty of plotted events for the characters to deal with, but they always deal with them in real, consistent ways. 

And Katniss. Katniss is so amazing. I really don't have anything else to say because I love this book so much. 
book and cup

#19 Strong Poison - Dorothy L Sayers (1929)

Can Lord Peter Wimsey prove that Harriet Vane is not guilty of murder - or find the real poisoner in time to save her from the gallows?
Impossible, it seems. The Crown's case is watertight. The police are adamant that the right person is on trial. The judge's summing-up is also clear. Harriet Vane is guilty of the killing her lover. And Harriet Vane shall hang.

I am a big fan of what are often referred to as the “golden age of crime” novels especially those of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. Strong Poison is one I had wanted to read for some time but- though I have spotted her novels in charity shops and on book laden tables during bookcrossing meet ups – never seem to come across this particular novel. So I gave in recently and downloaded it to my kindle at a cost of £4 or £5 – I think it was worth it. Having stumped up the cash – so to speak, for ‘Strong Poison’ I was chuffed therefore, when I found another Dorothy L Sayers novel ‘Whose Body’- the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel published in 1923 - available for free (girlebooks.com).

It is in Strong Poison that we – and indeed Lord Peter – meet Harriet Vane – who is an important figure in some later Sayers novels. In this novel although she is at the centre of the story she doesn’t actually appear very often. Harriet is on trial for Murder; Lord Peter in the public gallery is convinced she is innocent. Thankfully Lord Peter’s employee Miss Climpson happens to be on the jury and although certainly not prompted by Lord Peter – she too believes the prisoner innocent and sticking to her guns throughout deliberations ensures that a verdict cannot be reached. Forcing the judge to order a new trail gives Lord Peter valuable time to investigate to truth of the matter. The problem though, is that the victim, Harriet Vanes former lover, was poisoned – his last meal he shared with his cousin and the servants and they suffered no ill effects, but he was later taken ill shortly after drinking coffee with Harriet Vane in her flat. There are three possibilities, he was murdered by Harriet Vane – obviously not, he committed suicide, or was murdered by someone else, only how?

The plot is fairly ingenious I thought – although I did guess the whodunit – I think most readers will. In a way the who is less important in this novel and could be said to be pretty obvious – but it is the howdunit that kept me guessing. Ably assisted by the utterly marvellous Bunter, Miss Climpson and the ladies of The Cattery – a typing bureau that is really a bureau of investigation funded by Wimsey, Lord Peter sets out to prove Harriet Vane innocent. The fact that he has immediately fallen in love with her and proposes to her upon first meeting her in prison adds a little flavour of romance to the story. The period of 1929/1930 – which of course is around the time the novel was written is beautifully portrayed – no doubt fairly seamlessly as Sayers was writing about her own era – but how wonderful for us now to have this period so humorously presented to us with its peculiarities of speech, social conventions and class snobberies.

I found this overall to be a thoroughly entertaining read, and for those readers new to Dorothy L Sayers it would make a pretty good one to start with.


Book #8: A Scandal in Bohemia and Other Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I got this book as part of a free giveaway in conjunction with the BBC’s Sherlock series (one of three Sherlock Holmes books that I got). This included six mysteries, some of which I had read before (e.g. The Red Headed League, the Man with the Twisted Lip), but I’d forgotten enough about them to still enjoy them.

The main story, A Scandal in Bohemia, which also inspired one of the recent episodes of the BBC series, and it introduced an enjoyable and well-written femme fatale, Irene Adler. Overall, one of the things I most enjoyed about the short stories was the fact that Conan Doyle does not make them too long, but at the same time, each is plotted intricately with a satisfying conclusion.

Next book: Nerd Do Well (Simon Pegg)