Svetlana Petrova's Fat Cat Art: Famous Masterpieces Improved by a Ginger Cat with Attitude is a clever collection of famous art into which Petrova's 2Svetlana Petrova's Fat Cat Art: Famous Masterpieces Improved by a Ginger Cat with Attitude is a clever collection of famous art into which Petrova's 22-lb. ginger tabby, Zarathustra, has been thoughtfully inserted. That concept alone would probably be enough, but Petrova has upped the ante by integrating a cute combination of accompanying text written from Zarathustra's perspective as the book progresses through the history of art by select genres in chronological order. The book develops a number of different themes, exploring the place of memes in popular culture, the symbolism and stylistic conventions of art history, and the many ways in which the ubiquitous tabby has been excluded from iconic art--conspiracy, perhaps? Zarathustra might agree.
These works are far more than just photo-shopping a cat into a famous painting. Instead, Petrova had to meticulously work in the style of the original artist to drape a hand around this kitty and otherwise position the cat into the work. There's definitely something here for everyone, and it was hard for me to chose a favorite as they were all so entertaining.(The kitty-at-Lascaux, El Greco, Sargent, and Whistler are definitely in the running!) Fun stuff, for which I thank the First Reads Giveaway folks for delivering this one to my house where I could share them with another willful ginger kitty....more
I wanted Nightlight: A Parody to be hilarious. In retrospect, I'm left wondering how such a slim book can be so very tedious. Yep, that's about all I'I wanted Nightlight: A Parody to be hilarious. In retrospect, I'm left wondering how such a slim book can be so very tedious. Yep, that's about all I've got. Onward to something good to read....more
Cats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines Who Purr, Mouse, and Even Sing for Their Supper is the book equivalent of the movie Babe. In other words, you couCats on the Job: 50 Fabulous Felines Who Purr, Mouse, and Even Sing for Their Supper is the book equivalent of the movie Babe. In other words, you could have a terrible day and come home to this book and be right as rain in no time. The stories are sweet, the photos adorable, and the assorted kitties behind the stories are just an amazing little gift from the universe to the people, other animals, and communities they serve. What a happy, happy read--thanks so much, First Reads Giveaway folks!...more
I always enjoy Chet's internal monologue, and his keen intelligence. In Paw and Order Chet and his human companion private eye Bernie Little take a roI always enjoy Chet's internal monologue, and his keen intelligence. In Paw and Order Chet and his human companion private eye Bernie Little take a roadtrip to visit Bernie's absentee girlfriend and Washington Post writer Suzie in Washington, DC. The story was fine, but a bit flat in so far as it was a bit of a pastiche of available DC stereotypes. In addition, I would have liked the spy angle to have had more depth and wanted the guinea pig to actually have meant something substantive. Regardless, I'm still a sucker for this duo....more
I would be willing to go as high as 3 1/2 stars on Midnight Crossroad, the first book in Charlaine Harris' new "Midnight, Texas" series. While the resI would be willing to go as high as 3 1/2 stars on Midnight Crossroad, the first book in Charlaine Harris' new "Midnight, Texas" series. While the resolution of the case/crime itself wasn't all that interesting or even particularly sophisticated, the world-building and distinctly quirky (if not downright macabre, in some cases) characters are fab. I'm not quite sure what I think of the references to two other Harris series (i.e., the Lily Bard "Shakespeare" series and the Harper Connelly series), as it felt a bit "product-placement(ish)."
I look forward to more books in the series, and am hopeful it will prove a success....more
Charlaine Harris' Day Shift, the second book in her "Midnight, Texas" series, is a solid 3 1/2-star read. Midnight, Texas is a tiny little town full oCharlaine Harris' Day Shift, the second book in her "Midnight, Texas" series, is a solid 3 1/2-star read. Midnight, Texas is a tiny little town full of creatures with, to quote local psychic Manfred Bernardo, "extranormal" abilities. It's fun to see how the quirky folks, some with present lives every bit as dark as their pasts, work together while still respecting one another's right to their secrets.
The cross-over with the Sookie Stackhouse books was unexpected, but helps to keep Sookie alive in readers' hearts and minds, while also allowing us to carry over our knowledge from that series into the current one. Whatever the underpinnings of the recently-refurbished Midnight Hotel are, that is doubtless something that will evolve as a larger story arc over the life of the series.
As a mystery, the pieces and parts were entirely predictable. As far as character development and world-building go, it was great fun. I look forward to regrouping and catching up with the first book which I'd skipped over. Thankfully, while book #2 references the broad brush events of book #1 it doesn't entirely spoil the fun. I'm happy to have more Charlaine Harris to read, and hope she builds as fun a series here as she has elsewhere....more
Scents and Sensibility is a good solid outing in Chet and Bernie land. While Chet's internal monologue occasionally gets a bit repetitive, it's good sScents and Sensibility is a good solid outing in Chet and Bernie land. While Chet's internal monologue occasionally gets a bit repetitive, it's good stuff none the less. The saguaros were something of a red herring, as I had a grand plan for how to account for their meaning. The parallels between Saguaro Man and Burning Man, to this Nevada resident, were intriguing. I'm not quite sure what happened at the end, but hope it'll all be okay over the long run. Read these books, hug your pup (or whatever), and love those wonderful furbabies who bring such joy into our lives. In closing, I would be happy if Spencer Quinn were aware that I'm reading a history of Hoover Dam and The Water Knife hot on the heels of Bernie's never-ending worries about the aquifer. Message received!...more
This is the first book I've read by Paolo Bacigalupi, I live in northern Nevada, so am keenly familiar with the effects of drought and the historic anThis is the first book I've read by Paolo Bacigalupi, I live in northern Nevada, so am keenly familiar with the effects of drought and the historic and modern water wars of the American West. This book was recommended to me by an interesting woman and avid reader I met on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon. I opened it expecting a futuristic dystopian novel in which the Colorado River states were all but separate governments with paramilitary security forces protecting each state's access to dwindling life-sustaining waters. Instead, I found more of a thriller that I promptly began casting in my mind for the blockbuster movie it could readily become. (Paolo: Get the word out. Sell the rights. Do it!)
What I got was less dystopian and more near-future, in my estimation. The violence at times was extreme (holy cow--those hyenas were entirely over the top!), the characterization was sparse but interesting, and the world-building (esp. given it really isn't all that far off) superb. What I liked most is the fact that it wasn't all tied up in a nice, tidy resolution. Such an end would have ruined things and been a disservice to the characters. Plus, it retained that razor's edge of it could all still go horribly wrong at any moment.
I'd be keen to read more by this author, but am even more interested in going back and finishing that somewhat dry (excuse the pun) history of Hoover Dam I started a month or so ago. Following that, I want to read Reisner's Cadillac Desert which figured so prominently in The Water Knife. My sincerest hope is that Bacigalupi's book might raise some consciousness and alert folks outside the West to the fact that this isn't entirely fiction. ...more
We have a "take or leave" shelf at work where folks drop stuff off they no longer need and others can pick up something they might want. Rodrick RulesWe have a "take or leave" shelf at work where folks drop stuff off they no longer need and others can pick up something they might want. Rodrick Rules, the second in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, appeared on the shelf last week. I had heard the series is immensely popular with the kiddos, so picked it up to give it a read.
So here's my review. Wow. Just wow. In a world where bullying is rampant, let's suggest to kids that they glorify the attitude of Greg Heffley--the smallest kid in his class, a self-avowed wimpy kid, whose bully of a high school aged brother Rodrick is constantly getting the best of him. Not so great, but how does Greg rise above this crummy circumstance? Here's the best part, which I'm sure a good many parents will hope their own kids emulate. In response, Greg reflects that he was initially happy when his little brother Manny came along because he thought he'd now have someone he could boss around (accompanied by a nifty comparison of Rowley kicking a vastly smaller Greg as contrasts with Greg's dream image of him kicking his new little brother). But wait, that's not all. In addition, Greg copies off classmates' schoolwork, hazes a so-called friend by getting his classmates to all pretend that Chirag is invisible, buys a school report, steals play money from his best friend Rowley's board game when he realizes it's the same as the "Mom money" his mother has instituted in an effort to get her kids to actually contribute something to the household and, perhaps, learn a little something about the value of a dollar. This list goes on and on. In other words, Greg just continues the same crap treatment to which he himself is subjected. Oh yeah, great message. Let's make that a franchise.
I'll be returning this book to the "take or leave" shelf at work tomorrow as I certainly don't want it to take up valuable space on my shelves at home....more
A recent overnight visit with a dear friend involved her leaving a copy of this book on my pillow, noting that she had thoroughly enjoyed it and hopedA recent overnight visit with a dear friend involved her leaving a copy of this book on my pillow, noting that she had thoroughly enjoyed it and hoped I might as well. Bravo and thank you, Danielle!
Once again I find myself wishing that Goodreads offered half-stars so that I could give Elizabeth Chadwick's The Greatest Knight the 4 1/2 star rating I want to award. I don't read a lot of historical fiction these days, but enjoyed this book on so very many levels! Chadwick's characters, many of whom are known to us reasonably well via historic accounts, whose influences on fiction and the art of courtly love (thank you so much, Eleanor of Aquitaine), and of course many readers' familiarity with the Arthurian Cycle make them feel like old friends. Had William Marshal, the illiterate hero of this tale, been some glad-handing, self-promoting schmoozer, the story would have been neither as powerful nor as enjoyable. Instead, this man whose father essentially ransomed him to a king as guarantee on a debt, and then reneged on that promise (which, by rights, meant the young boy's life was forfeit), becomes the vehicle through which themes of family love and obligation, sibling rivalry, loyalty and, above all integrity are explored.
Chadwick struck just the right note between historical accuracy in terms of clothing/costume, period dialogue, and culture. The number of times almond milk figured in period cookery has sent me to a number of online and history of foodways sources--each of which supports the background and flavor text (excuse the pun) provided here.
Most enjoyable of all, of course, is to have completed the story wondering what's next for William and his family. I would note here that there is some confusion among readers as to whether this is a stand-alone book or a reader needs to have read its predecessor. It would seem that the former is the case, particularly since the Author's Note says this of William Marshal and her series:
The Greatest Knight explores the early part of this fascinating life. A second novel, The Scarlet Lion, is linked to the first but not dependent, and covers the doings of his later years...(pp. 531-532).
It bears mentioning that there is a predecessor to this book. In time, I will doubtless go back and read it as it doubtless provides important backstory.
The Author's Note at story's end provides clarification regarding where Chadwick took creative liberties and where she remained true to documented fact and event. Her comments only whetted my appetite to learn a bit more about this historic individual who is apparently well-known to students and scholars of the Middle Ages. How delightfully serendipitous when the day after finishing this book and bringing it to work to sing its praises to a co-worker with whom I often exchange reading matter, when she responds "That's so funny because I recently picked up a book I thought you might like titled The Greatest Knight." And what's coolest about this--the fact that her book, which I will begin shortly, is Thomas Asbridge's biography of William Marshall bearing the exact same title as Chadwick's novel. Between these two book-loving friends and myself, we now refer affectionately to Marshall as "our knight" and are keen to learn more about his life, accomplishments, and legacy. I can only imagine that Elizabeth Chadwick would be happy to know that her book has whetted our appetite to know more about this life and the period. ...more
A Reunion of Ghosts is a quirky tale that is essentially the 370-some odd page suicide note/manuscript co-authored by sisters Lady, Vee, and Delph AltA Reunion of Ghosts is a quirky tale that is essentially the 370-some odd page suicide note/manuscript co-authored by sisters Lady, Vee, and Delph Alter. The three have had more than the normal share of troubles, heartbreak, and illness--purportedly some sort of karmic retribution for their great grandfather Lenz Alter's role in the development of chlorine gas, initially for agricultural application but later adapted by the Nazi war machine for use as Zyklon in the death camps.
If that were all this book was, it would be easy to write it off (pun intended, pun always intended). Because it flirts with all manner of other themes, with a mad dash of wacky set in a rent-controlled apartment on Riverside Drive in NYC, the book manages to skim well over the top while still appearing modestly plausible. Those other themes include but are not limited to: the thwarting of women scientists' superior intellect in deference to their male advisors and/or preference given their middling male classmates, a scientist's ethical obligations and responsibilities in relation to the subsequent adaptations made to his/her discoveries, the role of scientific genius and exemptions granted (or not) on the domestic front, the near total control that otherwise powerless single mothers exert in shaping their children's reality in relation to their wider family historical narrative, and the power of siblings to protect and hobble one another simultaneously.
There is much sadness here, much near joy, as well as the story of three women who literally wrote their own story--or did they?--bound up as they possibly were in the notion that there are all manner of displaced persons. An interesting read, a somewhat slowish read, and an intriguing writing project with the occasional flash of brilliance (esp. as the sisters avoid the onslaught of would-be scholars who wish the build their careers on the back of Alter's guilt-ridden descendants). I'm not sure what knowing that the story is loosely based on the story of Fritz Haber lends it in terms of the enjoyability scale. Read it and let me know what you think.
This is the perfect book for anyone who loves hummus, delicious snack foods, and a range of Mediterranean-inspired dishes, breads, and condiments. It'This is the perfect book for anyone who loves hummus, delicious snack foods, and a range of Mediterranean-inspired dishes, breads, and condiments. It's reasonably priced, has gorgeous photos, well-composed/organized recipes and, best of all, it includes a recipe for making your own Za'atar--score!...more
Carriger's Prudence is fun in so far as it provides glimpses into the lives and later actions of characters of whom many readers will have grown fondCarriger's Prudence is fun in so far as it provides glimpses into the lives and later actions of characters of whom many readers will have grown fond in either the Parasol Protectorate or the Finishing School series. Some of the narrator's dismissive asides regarding those characters, esp. given that they are the author's words and seem to make the reader passively complicit in the sentiments expressed, feel a bit like throwing some well-regarded characters (esp. Rue's mom) under a bus. While this is only book #1, I have to admit that it's occupying a distant third place in relation to those other series....more
I won Summer Cocktails: Margaritas, Mint Juleps, Punches, Party Snacks, and More in Goodreads' "First-Reads" giveaway program. Rather than rehashing tI won Summer Cocktails: Margaritas, Mint Juleps, Punches, Party Snacks, and More in Goodreads' "First-Reads" giveaway program. Rather than rehashing the classics, this book offers something new in so far as it contains loads of variations with quick blurbs, box text, and/or references back to the classic on which a particular recipe may be a spin.
Attractively designed, the book uses cooling summer colors, an inviting/bar menu-reminiscent font (you'll know what I mean the moment you see it), and gorgeous photos to share recipes for drinks and punches (including an assortment of Pimm's offerings as well as white and dark variations on sangria), pickling suggestions and recipes for items that go either in or beside the beverage, as well as several yummy-sounding snack and meal recommendations. I've tabbed numerous items for the coming summer months, over the course of which we'll be trying the Sake to Me, Pimm's Editions,Trouble in Paradisi, Dolce Far Niente, La Dolce Vita, Limeade, the Downtown L.A. Dogs with Guacamole, and the Chile, Chorizo, and Potato Breakfast Tacos.
While possibly not the message you want to send as a Graduation Day goody for the new college graduate, this book would make a great gift to anyone who enjoys a little quelque chose a boire with an upcoming summer birthday or other gift-giving occasion. I know I appreciate the copy with which I've been gifted--thanks, First-reads!...more