I didn't expect this to be so short or so very very simple. I think the only way to get a ton out of it is to read it much slower than I did in search...moreI didn't expect this to be so short or so very very simple. I think the only way to get a ton out of it is to read it much slower than I did in search of the deeper meanings both textually and contextually. I did enjoy seeing how Alice learned some, while venturing through Wonderland, about manners and maybe not telling her animal companions about how she ate or saw someone eating their kind just the other day. Silly Alice. The book does do a great job of characterizing how the young are so very oblivious to their own shortcomings while still aware of those same flaws on those around them.(less)
This is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from t...moreThis is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from the movies as are many of the situations, such as Luke playing in the trash compactor. From the author note, the concept for the book came from the humorous idea of Vader and Luke spending Father's Day together. The author has since explored Vader's fatherhood further with the creation of Vader's Little Princess, which I've only skimmed. But, based on that skimming, I would probably rate it at five stars.(less)
This second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the tw...moreThis second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed ex-president of the galaxy, as he tries to discover the knowledge and plans hidden away in his brain. Both humans, Arthur and Trillian, took major back seats. Perhaps the thing I disliked most about Zaphod's front-and-center status was the hair-slicked-back, Johnny-motorcycle-jacket voice the audio book narrator gave him. However, again, Restaurant pulled through in the end with two separate and supporting culminations cleverly presenting a strong message about life and existence. Definitely good enough (and short enough) to read another.(less)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the myste...moreWhere'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the mystery of her mother's sudden disappearance from her life. Her mother, Bernadette, is an eccentric ex-artist/architect who is still struggling to find her feet again after a mean-spirited disaster befell her last architectural masterpiece and she suffered several miscarriages before Bee finally came along. Bee's father is a genius Microsoft-ie who isn't often at home.
I was rather confused when I started reading this book. Despite the fact that Bee is the one who has organized the letters and emails into a cohesive whole--inserting her own commentary here and there--this is actually a book written for adults. But Bernadette's emails--particularly to her Indian virtual assistant, Manjula--read as if she is a chatty, snarky fourteen-year-old herself. The narrative voice of Bernadette was just completely unbelievable to me as an adult, and I had a hard time suspending my disbelief on the kind of ridiculous stuff she talked about in her emails to her virtual assistant. This book reads like a middlegrade novel (written for 10-12 year olds). Bernadette was also, at times, rather racist and classist--as are many of the other characters.
Those issues aside, this was actually a very entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have issues with reading books based in my own locale of Seattle--the place-dropping tends to annoy the crap out of me. Which was still the case here, but I also enjoyed most of the Microsoft stuff. Semple did a good job of preventing both the pros and cons of the company as an employer. I also liked how she presented the good and bad of Seattle.
Definitely a book worth checking out--a fun, easy, drama-ridden read.(less)
In Bloodshot, the first in Cherie Priest's newish Cheshire Red Reports series, Raylene Pendle (aka, Cheshire Red)--a vampire uber thief to the rich an...moreIn Bloodshot, the first in Cherie Priest's newish Cheshire Red Reports series, Raylene Pendle (aka, Cheshire Red)--a vampire uber thief to the rich and often less-than-moral--recounts the events of a particularly difficult case, and one that promises to send her on a series of new adventures to come.
While, yes, this is another book about vampires, it appears--at least from this first installment--that the Cheshire Red Reports are less about vampires and more about the action and mystery of the cases themselves. Priest does an excellent job of laying the groundwork for more books to come, leaving enough clues to make me curious for more and anticipate certain characters' larger roles in future novels. I particularly enjoyed several of the colorful secondary characters--the ex-Navy Seal, drag queen Adrian (aka, Sister Rose), and the orphan squatter kids Domino and Pepper--and how they helped flesh out Raylene's character through their interactions with her.
Ian Stott, the only other vampire character and the client who sends Raylene on the Bloodshot mission, had a little less depth. And I hope he is better fleshed out in the next book. I thought Ian's ghoul, Cal, was the least likeable and least developed of all. But perhaps I just felt that way because, in the audio version, the reader used the same voice for both Cal and Domino, so that Cal came off sounding like a 14-year-old boy. My lack of connection to Ian resulted in a few false emotional notes in the book. First, (view spoiler)[Ian's very strong emotional reaction to Cal's death, when the relationship between Ian and Cal had never been truly defined to the reader but left rather ambiguous. I couldn't sympathize with Ian more than I would with any stranger, so the whole part felt a bit forced (hide spoiler)]. The second was when Raylene (view spoiler)[finally kisses Ian. Yes, we could all see it coming. But with sexy Adrian by her side, I had stopped rooting for the blind vampire ages ago. Ian just had no personality. And the timing was all wrong, at least if Raylene actually wanted anything to last. I just couldn't get on board with the choice (hide spoiler)].
My only other complaint was the complete disregard for human life. Nameless, faceless "men in black" were dying left and right, and there was not even a tip of the hat to their deaths or a thought for their families waiting back home. Raylene was all bent out of shape over (view spoiler)[vampires being imprisoned, experimented on, and dying during the course of experimentation (hide spoiler)]. You can bet she killed a heck of a lot more people during the course of this case, people who may have just been doing their jobs.
On the whole, Bloodshot was fun, fast-paced, and funny. A good, easy read with a strong narrative voice.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is my first experience reading (or in this case, listening) to David Sedaris. And, for the most part, I was thinking, How have I not come across...moreThis is my first experience reading (or in this case, listening) to David Sedaris. And, for the most part, I was thinking, How have I not come across this before?! This is great! I would have rated the collection of personal (for the most part) essays with four stars if not for the last few essays in the collection. Which is where the for the most parts really come in.
For the most part, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls is a collection of memoir short stories about very interesting and colorful Mr. Sedaris, his expatriate adventures in Europe, his partner Hugh, and his rather dysfunctional and emotional scar-inducing father. Sedaris's effortless prose and witty observations about himself and others reminded me of Augusten Burroughs (perhaps Sedaris was an influence of his?) and made for great entertainment and a comforting sense that nobody is perfect.
However, mixed in with the last few essays in the collection were several that dropped the memoir/personal essay point of view in lieu of something closer to the facetious irony of Stephen Colbert. In these stories, Sedaris seemed to adopt the points of view of the kinds of people he hates--and, I must add, the most hyperbolic representations of how these people might think and act (for example, a man who goes on a killing spree after gay marriage is enacted into law). Rather than being humorous and making light of right-wing insanity (as Colbert does), these stories left me with a dark and yucky feeling induced both by Sedaris's own dislike of these people as well as the hate imbued in the characters themselves. I could have done without these, as well as without the dog limerick that closed the collection on a rather low note.
Oh, also, although Sedaris did open up the collection with a story relating to owls, he never once (that I can recall) mentions diabetes in the collection. For which I was definitely disappointed.(less)
I was rather disappointed in this first memoir by Carrie Fisher (best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars). The narrative was all over th...moreI was rather disappointed in this first memoir by Carrie Fisher (best known for her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars). The narrative was all over the place, particularly the first chapter or section, which I think was meant to kind of capture and summarize the theme and trajectory of the rest of the work but just came across as, perhaps ironically, all over the map--completely bi-polar, perfectly mirroring the mental disorder that Fisher shares her struggles with in this book.
Everything enjoyable about the book was tempered by Fisher's reading of it and her general writing style. I can't even count how many times she would start a new paragraph with "Anyways...". Even when her tangent really did have to do with the topic at hand. So, flow was an issue. In the audiobook version, I think Fisher tried hard to be sincere and candid. But that's just the thing. She sounded like she was trying hard. Really, really hard. All her chuckling at her own funny stories really dampened the humor potential of everything. And her overall performance came across as somewhat contrived. One of the only times that I would say the memoir would have been better if read by someone other than the author.
I will probably go ahead and read her second memoir Shockaholic, despite my disappointment in this first one, because I already have it on hand. Plus, they're short. And it's not like I dragged my feet about listening to it. It's just that it was by no means fabulous.(less)
Unintentionally procrastinated for a month on writing a review for this book, so it's definitely no longer fresh in my mind.
I can't help but compare...moreUnintentionally procrastinated for a month on writing a review for this book, so it's definitely no longer fresh in my mind.
I can't help but compare this to Stephen Colbert's first book, I am America, which is so thick with satirical irony that if I listen too closely it makes my head hurt. America (The Book), in contrast, is laced with satire as well as just plain silliness, making it a lighter, more enjoyable read. I particularly loved the "educational" format of the book, particularly the discussion questions and classroom activities. Though I was gravely disappointed that the audiobook version was abridged. Why even make a print version when the audio version has Jon Stewart and other Daily Show cast members reading it to you??(less)
I didn't realize until at least two-thirds of the way through that the theme of this work is actually father-figures. More accurately, the theme and f...moreI didn't realize until at least two-thirds of the way through that the theme of this work is actually father-figures. More accurately, the theme and focus seemed to suddenly swing away from Carrie's drug-abuse and Electroconvulsive (shock) therapy over to the father-figures in her life and, ultimately, her father Eddie Fisher.
As with Wishful Drinking, I found this second memoir by Carrie Fisher mildly annoying and something to be gotten through. She likes to preface all her memoirs with lengthy introductions about how she knows she is famous and uber-rich and so really doesn't have a right to complain about the difficulties in her life, blah blah blah. And I get that. Nobody's life is perfect and being famous and rich doesn't buy you happiness. And yet I still find myself wanting to say, just about certain things: Suck it up a little, Carrie. You were not chubby as a young and middle woman, but gorgeous. Boohoo that Star Wars become an instant classic and launched you into unwanted stardom. You made bank; set for life. Get over it. And the Princess Leia hair and the metal bra really don't justify all the whining I'm hearing from you. So dudes like to picture Princess Leia while they masturbate? DEAL WITH IT!
Shockaholic was a little better than Wishful Drinking in terms of the writing (many fewer "So..."s and "Anyway..."s), the whining quotient, and Carrie's reading of the book (in the audio version) but, as stated above, not so great in terms of organization and cohesion. Plus, I just don't find her jokes funny.(less)
I enjoyed this second book by Stephen Colbert (and writers of the Colbert Report) better than the first, I am America. Perhaps because it deals with m...moreI enjoyed this second book by Stephen Colbert (and writers of the Colbert Report) better than the first, I am America. Perhaps because it deals with more recent issues--the economic downturn, shortage of jobs, etc., rather than the 2008 Bush/Obama election, which is the primary focus of the first book. I thoroughly enjoyed the voice performances of the audio version (unabridged, yay!). These books by Colbert are so heavy with satiric irony that they're not always light reads. But still highly enjoyable.(less)
Free-range knitter contains a collection of personal essays and humorous bits pertaining to her life-long obsession with knitting. Being one of her la...moreFree-range knitter contains a collection of personal essays and humorous bits pertaining to her life-long obsession with knitting. Being one of her later works, this book contains a lot of essays about the latter stages of parental life--once most of her kids of reached their teenage years.
This is the second book I've read by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and I actually found this one a bit disappointing. I particularly found most of the essays about parenting and watching other people knit rather dull and was impatient to get to the next story. Yet she hides little gems even in these more boring stories, so I don't feel like I can skip ahead without potentially missing out on something. (Note to people with kids: you probably won't find the parenting essays so dull. It's just that I don't have children, let alone teenagers, so it really isn't the kind of thing I can sympathize with yet.)
Free-range knitter, as with Pearl-McPhee's other works, offered a few very redeeming stories in it as well. I particularly enjoyed the essay about how she knits while she walks, and the unfortunate elevator incident that results, and her story on how she taught her daughters to knit through osmosis.(less)
This was a fun, quick listen. I stumbled onto it from Michael Pollan's bibliography, but there are a ton of other great celebrity guests on here as we...moreThis was a fun, quick listen. I stumbled onto it from Michael Pollan's bibliography, but there are a ton of other great celebrity guests on here as well, including Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report).(less)
I was very disappointed in this quick read, outlining Dan Abrams research "proving" that women are better than men at a lot of things that men are typ...moreI was very disappointed in this quick read, outlining Dan Abrams research "proving" that women are better than men at a lot of things that men are typically favored for. The truth is, I felt Abrams' proof (citing one or two studies per topic) was border-line anecdotal. I don't disagree with him that women probably are better than men at these things. ;-) But his "proof" lacked in credibility, and his presentation was quite dry.
*** Original comments, when added to to-read list *** Super interested in reading this when I read a bio about Dan Abrams, who was a speaker at an event I was recently invited to. Immediately put a hold on the audio version at my library. Should be learning all about the betterness of women very soon now. Also very curious as to how he found himself writing about this topic.(less)
This is a very fun and funny collection of anecdotes, accompanied by often humorously-related famous quotes, about knitting. Written for the knitting-...moreThis is a very fun and funny collection of anecdotes, accompanied by often humorously-related famous quotes, about knitting. Written for the knitting-obsessed or simply the knitting hobbyist, this quick read will re-inspire your knitting and make you long for more time with your neglected needles. At Knit's End definitely makes me want to read Pearl-McPhee's other books and her knitting blog.(less)
This was a light, enjoyable, humorous look at bicycle culture and the age-old conflict of bike versus car. The book is written with a religious spin (...moreThis was a light, enjoyable, humorous look at bicycle culture and the age-old conflict of bike versus car. The book is written with a religious spin (hence the "Enlightened" part), using biblical stories as bicycle-riding similes -- think Adam and Eve as the first consumers and the first commuters, once they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. But be warned: if you are rather religious you may be offended by his irreverent treatment of the Bible, which he actually refers to as "the greatest work of fiction." As a commuter who sometimes does said commuting via bicycle, I found this book gave me a much better view of bicycling nerd culture. It gave me a very good sense of the road rage between bicyclists, cars, pedestrians, et al., in New York City. And the extreme forms of bicycle culture often embraced in Portland, OR.(less)