Callahan has written a highly readable, lyrical memoir about the years he spent fishing out of South Bristol, Maine in the 1970s. Fresh out of collegeCallahan has written a highly readable, lyrical memoir about the years he spent fishing out of South Bristol, Maine in the 1970s. Fresh out of college with a liberal arts degree, he stumbled into the world of small-scale commercial fishing and found himself hooked, as it were. He vividly describes the characters and events of the time, helping the reader understand why, in the face of physical hardship, constant uncertainty, and near-poverty line existence, he found himself continually drawn to the fishing life. He does an excellent job of describing the technical aspects of the fisheries without overloading the reader with detail, and is equally deft in his descriptions of the local Mainers; some might be crusty and taciturn, but they were ultimately willing to take on this college-educated kid from "away" and let him prove himself, learning by doing. Full disclosure: this reviewer is married to a man who fished commercially at roughly the same time period - but that is certainly not a prerequisite for enjoying these accounts, which are at turns dramatic and humorous. Even landlubbers can't fail to sense the author's deep passion for this largely disappeared way of life. ...more
I recently heard Libba Bray speak at the national AASL conference, and she was a riot - she could do standup comedy, I swear. If you ever have a chancI recently heard Libba Bray speak at the national AASL conference, and she was a riot - she could do standup comedy, I swear. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, do! But in addition to her amusing, self-deprecating banter, she also talked about this series, and the amount and type of research that's gone into it, as it's set in 1920s New York City. I'm not a huge fan of supernatural and gore, so I was a little leery, but I decided to give it a look over Thanksgiving. Well, a couple of days and 578 pages later, I find myself checking to see when the second volume in the trilogy is due out. It definitely has movie potential - especially those gory, scary parts - but they were not gratuitous or too overwhelming for faint of heart me, and they'll satisfy those who do enjoy that kind of stuff. It was the mystery element, the developing characters, and the suspense that kept me reading, as well as the vivid setting - clearly Bray's extensive research paid off. ...more
I finally got around to reading this. The only Daniel Handler I'd read up til now was the "Series of Unfortunate Events," so I wasn't sure what to expI finally got around to reading this. The only Daniel Handler I'd read up til now was the "Series of Unfortunate Events," so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen and heard videos and audios of Handler, and he is a riot! (If you haven't already done so, watch Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events with his commentary running in the background).
I loved this book, and whoever paired Handler's text with Maira Kalman's illustrations is a genius! One of those instances where the illustrations not only complement the text, but actually give it further dimension. Handler did an amazing job of channeling the outlook and spirit of a teenage girl as she details her first serious relationship, her initial gut reactions and emotions wrestling with her intellectual and philosophical self as she now reflects back over the tumultuous weeks. While Min (short for Minerva) refuses to be categorized as "artsy" (or anything else, for that matter) it's the label her peers most often seem to want to hang on her, given her fascination with old films. However, it's also abundantly clear that she is NOT, and never has been, part of her new boyfriend's crowd (Ed Slaterton is co-captain of the basketball team). While Ed's character is not as fully developed as Min's, Handler did not take the easy way out and paint him as totally one-dimensional and despicable. There are probably adults who have labeled this book as "predictable," and from an adult perspective, perhaps it is. But teens (and adults like me who haven't totally left their teen selves behind) will get swept up by and drawn into Mina's narrative of "why they broke up." Recommended for older teens....more
I love Sammy Keyes! Yes, it's a series, yes, you pretty much always know what to expect - but that's what I love about them. The characters DO developI love Sammy Keyes! Yes, it's a series, yes, you pretty much always know what to expect - but that's what I love about them. The characters DO develop throughout the series, and Sammy's voice, while consistent, somehow remains fresh and funny. ...more
I finally finished Great Expectations, and enjoyed it immensely. I love the flow of Dickens's language once my brain gets attuned to it. Unusually forI finally finished Great Expectations, and enjoyed it immensely. I love the flow of Dickens's language once my brain gets attuned to it. Unusually for me, in the last few months I've been book-hopping, depending upon my mood, hence, I had put this down for several months. It's only the second Dickens novel I've read in its entirety, but I just purchased those lovely little Collector's Library editions of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. Waiting for his serialized works to come out in the next newspaper must have been the 19th century equivalent of waiting for the next Downton Abbey installment. ;-)...more
This was a page-turned that kept me up late - slightly less grim than Divergent (both are Teen Nutmeg nominees). While Divergent is better written, itThis was a page-turned that kept me up late - slightly less grim than Divergent (both are Teen Nutmeg nominees). While Divergent is better written, it's also more depressing in its believability; Michael Vey sometimes feels like a special effects vehicle, particularly at the end....more
One of this year's Teen Nutmeg nominees - I was pleasantly surprised by this - a compelling read, but a welcome change from nightmare-inducing dystopiOne of this year's Teen Nutmeg nominees - I was pleasantly surprised by this - a compelling read, but a welcome change from nightmare-inducing dystopian Hunger Games-like fare. ...more
Physically, this is an absolutely lovely book - the layout, illustrations, paper are all delightful. I also really enjoyed the "play by play" of all tPhysically, this is an absolutely lovely book - the layout, illustrations, paper are all delightful. I also really enjoyed the "play by play" of all the dance scenes in each of Austen's novels, as well as details on the dress and social customs of Austen's time. I really wanted to love this book, but I have two major issues with it. Firstly, I found it to be a bit repetitive, with the same material reappearing in successive chapters. Because the writing is smooth and entertaining, I could have lived with that.
However, my second, and major complaint is with the coverage of the actual dances themselves. I have been involved with modern English country dancing since the late 1970's, and while I'm no historical expert, I do think Fullerton should have attended some English country dances and balls herself, as well as interviewed dance callers and experts in the field. If she did indeed do so, that is not reflected in the final descriptions.
The amount of actual material on the dances, associated music, and choreographic details makes for less than a full chapter, but perhaps that is just as well. The author makes it sound as if all dances were triple minors, and that the majority of the dancers were standing still throughout the course of the dance, with only the initial top, or active, couple and two other couples at a time dancing. If this was, indeed, the way things were done, I will stand corrected; if not, Fullerton needed to do more research and make her writing clearer.
Austen fans will still find much to like about this book, and I would recommend it to my English dance friends as well - but please let me know if I'm totally off base here. I would love to see Fullerton do justice to the dance section, do some more extensive, detailed research, and produce a second, expanded/corrected edition.
Update: Thanks to Kris, an English Country Dance friend, who directed me to Susan de Guardiola's excellent blog "Capering & Kickery." After reading Susan's posting on "What Did Jane Austen Dance?" I can see that Fullerton's information is not incorrect, but lacking in detail, particularly for those of us who currently do English country dances. I still do hope she gets to go to a contemporary English dance if she hasn't yet. ...more
I was first introduce to Wessels through his book Reading the Forested Landscape, an excellent natural history book about how to infer past land use hI was first introduce to Wessels through his book Reading the Forested Landscape, an excellent natural history book about how to infer past land use history and/or natural disturbances based on various clues which Wessels teaches the reader to recognize. This book is quite different, being a treatise on why, based on well-known scientific principles of ecology and thermodynamics, our planet cannot support the unending growth upon which our current economy depends. ...more
This was a fascinating book, lent to me by my friend Fred (thanks Fred!). As I read it I kept thinking "now where was this book when I was in my ecoloThis was a fascinating book, lent to me by my friend Fred (thanks Fred!). As I read it I kept thinking "now where was this book when I was in my ecology classes in college?" We often take the countryside and forest flora for granted when we walk through them. Not in the sense that we don't appreciate them, but we don't stop to ask ourselves "why these particular plants here?" That's the question I've asked myself since taking Bill Niering's classes all those years ago. Reading Wessels' book has provided me with a refresher course, as well as giving me several new tips and tricks. I knew about such things as "cradles and pillows" (depressions and mounds on the forest floor indicating past tree blowdowns, the depressions being created as the root mass is pulled from the ground, and the mounds formed later as all that organic matter decays), and "wolf trees" (large openly branched trees next to stone walls, which once served as shade trees to browsing livestock in adjacent pastureland). New to me was information about how to read basal tree scars - evidence of fire when on the uphill side of a slope (the side on which leaf litter collects, thus providing fuel for a hotter fire), and evidence of logging when found on facing tree trunks (log skidders scarring the trees as they pass by).
The format of the book is unique, and extremely well-suited to its purpose. Wessels begins each cryptically named chapter with an etching of a forest scene (by Brain Cohen), some of which portray actual sites, some of which are idealized. He then leads the reader through the process of sussing out what factors are most likely responsible for these trees and shrubs in this location. Finally, he rounds out the chapter with a historical discussion of the particular disturbance factor (fire, wind storms, human interaction, etc.) under discussion.
Wessels has since written an associated field guide (Forest Forensics), complete with dichotomous key, even! (Those of a certain age may remember "Choose Your Own Adventure" books - if you want "x" to happen, turn to page 22; if you want "Z" to happen, turn to page 47. At the end of that page you are presented with another choice - etc., etc. That's how a dichotomous key works). This way, the next time you're walking in the woods, you can whip out your field guide and try to figure out on your own the history of the forest you're walking through. I've already ordered myself a copy!
Note: Even though Wessels has written the book specifically for central New England and the species that typically grow there, much of the information is pertinent for southern and northern New England as well - though of course I would love it if there were a similar volume for CT and RI!)...more
This is southeastern Connecticut's current One Book One Region title. It took me a couple of tries to get started, but once I did I pretty much couldnThis is southeastern Connecticut's current One Book One Region title. It took me a couple of tries to get started, but once I did I pretty much couldn't put it down. The title character is a Wampanoag Indian from Martha's Vineyard who crosses between his world and that of the Christianizing white "settlers" of the Island, eventually literally crossing the water to study at a preparatory school and then Harvard College. The story is told from the perspective of Bethia, daughter of the preacher who is Caleb's first teacher on the Island. Unbeknownst to anyone, Bethia and Caleb have already spent a great deal of time together, having chanced across each other one day in the woods and become good friends over time. Bethia suffers more than her share of tragedy, losing four immediate family members over the course of the story. I found her to be a fairly believable and definitely likable character; so often in stories like this, heroines are given modern-day values and outlooks, but while Bethia feels unfairly stifled in her yearning for formal education, she does indeed continue to perform her sisterly and daughterly duties throughout the story. She is intrigued by and drawn to the Wampanoag's religious practices, but at the same time truly believes them to be the work of the Devil, and feels that her family misfortunes are God's punishment for this transgression. (There are more than a few Adam and Eve parallels to be found.) The author's notes make it clear that she has done her research, but she admits that, while there was a "Caleb" who matriculated from Harvard, little is known about his actual life, and her Caleb is most definitely a fictional character. The engaging characters and plot made this one of those books that I didn't really want to finish, as I wanted to spend more time in the lives of Bethia and Caleb....more
I really enjoy Nicholas Carr's books, and also check on his blog, Rough Type, on a regular basis. Firstly, like John McPhee, he can make a potentiallyI really enjoy Nicholas Carr's books, and also check on his blog, Rough Type, on a regular basis. Firstly, like John McPhee, he can make a potentially dull topic truly fascinating. I would not have thought the history of power generation and its eventual transformation to a utility could make interesting reading -- but it did! Secondly, I think he is a thoughtful and astute social commentator, asking us to take some time to witness and think about the lightning-fast changes that technology is bringing to our lives. He's not a naysaying Luddite or a Henny Penny (the sky is falling!), and, like all of us, uses and needs technology. However, in the second half of this book, as he draws intriguing parallels between electricity's history and that of computing (moving us more and more to The Cloud model), he asks his readers to think about the ramifications....more
I didn't finish this book as I found it a bit repetitive, and I got tired of the Seventeen magazine-like quizzes. I guess I was hoping for something aI didn't finish this book as I found it a bit repetitive, and I got tired of the Seventeen magazine-like quizzes. I guess I was hoping for something a bit more scholarly....more