This book was my bowling-ball-with-my-name-on-it gift to my wife this Christmas, à la Homer's gift to Marge in that old Simpsons episode. What I'm sayThis book was my bowling-ball-with-my-name-on-it gift to my wife this Christmas, à la Homer's gift to Marge in that old Simpsons episode. What I'm saying is I bought this for her, but it was really for me.
Thing is, I knew she'd love it, and she did. She read it in its entirety on Christmas day. I finally got around to it just now, but once I got into it, I also gobbled it up quick. You see, we're both big fans of Chip and Jojo, the hosts from the tv show Fixer Upper. We've watched plenty (too many) home remodeling shows over the years, especially around the time when we were looking to buy a house, but Chip and Jo meshed with our personalities more than others.
While a handsome couple in their own way, they're not "Hollywood handsome" like some others.
And their interactions feel more natural. Or at least they're not as irritating as some. No doubt that's because Chip and Joanna Gaines are a married couple with a family and a past. They worked on house building and remodeling projects prior to the show, and so their onscreen conundrums and strategies to overcome real obstacles that pop up in the process feel real. They also have almost polar opposite personalities that play off one another well onscreen. Chip's occasional Puck-like behavior can be entertaining, too.
It was the Gaines' past and the behind-the-show stories that I was interested in reading about when I picked up The Magnolia Story. Unfortunately this is a slim, fluff piece. Yes, there is plenty of their past to read about, but the thing is, their pasts aren't that interesting. Meh, my fault. I mean, I asked for it. It's not their fault that they haven't lived torturous and depraved lives. No wait, it is their fault! Lol! Anyway, what I'm saying is, don't expect huge amounts of drama and degradation in their history.
The lack of behind-the-scenes info on the tv show is something a little more substantial to complain about. That's what drove me, and no doubt many other readers, to this book. I wanted to hear about the production, what it takes to put the show together, how they decide on the properties to be featured, what makes good tv and what gets left on the cutting room floor, etc. Aside from the story of how the show's producers found them and how it eventually clicked, it's just not there. Possibly it's just not interesting.
All in all though, I can't complain. This is what it is and I didn't truly expect the world from this book. I got a fan's perspective and that's all one honestly deserves. I suspect most of the show's fans will be perfectly happy with The Magnolia Story. I scanned over a few reviews and noticed complaints that I hadn't considered, but in hindsight, yes, they do bother me too. Such as, Chip's manchild-like habit of buying new houses and even houseboats without consulting his wife, or forgetting that he's a dad and leaving his newborn to go to the store on multiple occasions, really does not endear me to the man. Some of it can be forgiven for reasons given in the book, but still, there was some negligible behavior going on there. Also, if you don't want to here the name God spoken every other page, steer clear. I didn't realize they were so churchy, because you don't get much sense of that on the show. And there were times when I want to shake them and say "No, you were the cause of the that, not anyone else!" whether it be for good or bad reason. Often decisions are attributed to "the voice of God" and I want to say, "In actuality, you decided to sell that property to the Gaines' at their asking price, because they're good people who are very charming, and jeez louise, it's an old farmhouse in the middle of Waco, Texas during a time when Waco wasn't all that! You weren't about to get a better offer and you know it!"
Charming, as I said above. This couple and their family are quite charming, and so is this book. If you're already a fan of Chip and Jojo, I recommend The Magnolia Story....more
"Fucking flat-earthers...Oh wait, that's not what he means? All right, maybe I'll read it."
That was me about five or so years ago when friends kept in"Fucking flat-earthers...Oh wait, that's not what he means? All right, maybe I'll read it."
That was me about five or so years ago when friends kept insisting I read The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman. Finally, when my wife recently bought tickets to a local Friedman talk, I resolved to read the damn thing.
I'm glad I did. It's really good. I'm not saying it's prefect (I'll get to that in a minute), but this is a must read at least for a certain few people with their heads in the clouds. For one, it's a great book for folks who don't understand what has happened since the advent of the internet. Give this as a gift to your dad or gramps. If they don't use it as a doorstop, they'll get a hell of an education on the modern ways of business and sociability.
The other group of people that need to read this, or really any book like this, are those cretins who troll, lurk and spew upon the comment section of "news" articles online. Everybody seems to have an indisputable, unshakable opinion that they take for fact and which they feel the need to spray all over the internet. They are the modern version of every family's uncle from the good ol' days who would show up at family events and holidays seemingly for the sole purpose of annoying everyone else while starting an argument with another alpha male about politics, religion, economics and any other myriad of topics that most sane people know is off-limits around family and friends you wish to retain as such. The real crime in all this is that they don't usually know what the fuck they're talking about. They have one biased, uninformed talking point on whatever the subject is they'll let you hear it.
So yes, I do feel like a book like this is helpful for a segment of the population, especially in these particularly stupid days in the American dark ages. The problem is, at 600+ pages, this book is 300 pages longer than it needs to be.
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century is not brief. That's because it's written as a journalist would write a book. This is a book-length feature article. Friedman makes a statement, maybe backs it up with data, and then gives an example via a full-blown biography on a business or entrepreneur. It's all good stuff. Some of it's even enjoyable. But it's more than necessary for what's actually being said. He could've done more with less. I honestly doubt I would've gotten through this if I hadn't gone with the audiobook version and had a cubic buttload of yard work to do.
Now, that's not to say didn't enjoy this or that I didn't get something out of it. I did. I am getting old and so some of these whippersnappers with their new fangled gadgets befuddle me. However, I did grow up in the age when personal computers were first coming into the home. I even had a Commodore 64, baby! So I'm not at a total loss in the computer age. On the other hand, I am a bit of a recluse and I'm not big into global politics and the economy, so sadly I am having to catch up on that and a book like this taught me a thing or two. So, let's call it a good stepping stone for the uninitiated.
Dames...a fella can't live with 'em and he can't live without 'em!
When John Hayden gets out of the clink after a 7 year stint, he ain't lookin' to goDames...a fella can't live with 'em and he can't live without 'em!
When John Hayden gets out of the clink after a 7 year stint, he ain't lookin' to go back any time soon. His dream is to go straight and buy a bar/inn out in the sticks, but he needs capital to make that happen and working at a bowling alley ain't cuttin' it. So, when an old friend comes along with a sweet real estate con job that would make his dream come true, Hayden has to say yes.
Of course, with a title like The Girl with the Long Green Heart you can imagine things get a little more complicated than that. When Evelyn Stone enters the picture, the picture changes.
With a strong plot, decently rounded characters and a fun crime story to boot, I enjoyed the heck out of this. Also, it was cool to read an early book by Lawrence Block. You can see the young version of him putting it all together (I wanted to say "putting the building blocks together" but I rose above!) and developing the talents he would need to create his excellent Matthew Scudder series.
I guess a review of this requires me to say that Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone is one of the first mystery novels ever written. Now that I've got thatI guess a review of this requires me to say that Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone is one of the first mystery novels ever written. Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get on with the review.
This English drama/mystery started out great. It also started out much the same way many English drama/mysteries of the period would start out: in the manor house. It also used the popular-in-its-time epistolary form of storytelling, with about a half dozen characters taking up their pens to relate their portion of this story.
What is the story? Well, it starts off like an adventure with a mysterious diamond discovered in a faraway land. The diamond is passed down as inheritance and then it is stolen. Lovers are torn asunder and the mystery of the missing diamond must be solved if love is to prevail.
In fact, love plays a large roll in this, so large actually that I'm inclined to call it a romance as much as a mystery. If memory serves, it is even referred to as such as a subtitle, as in The Moonstone, a romance.
Regardless, if you've come solely for the mystery you'll be disappointed in much of this. As I say, it started out great. The first quarter or so of the story is related by the butler and much of his portion of the tale involves the facts of the case. He's also a colorful character, who it seems Collins enjoyed writing about. After him, we move on to less charming characters such a fanatic Christian, a lawyer, a physician, detective and one of the principle suspects involved in the disappearance of the diamond.
The faults, for me, in this novel are its overlong explanations, its unnecessary sidebar storylines, occasional repetition, and the time spent dwelling on the mundane. Many scenes could have been easily reduced, some could have been dispensed with all together, and the book would've been all the better for it. All in all, it's not horrible. I'd put it in league with Dickens' middling work. Not worth rushing forth to read, but I wouldn't dismiss it altogether....more
That was really good. I mean really good! I knew I was going to enjoy it, because I'm a Brian Cranston/Breaking Bad fan, but this was exceptional.
AccThat was really good. I mean really good! I knew I was going to enjoy it, because I'm a Brian Cranston/Breaking Bad fan, but this was exceptional.
Acclaimed actor Brian Cranston is a surprisingly good storyteller and the man has some stories to tell! I found this online in audiobook form with him doing the reading and that, imo, is the best way to read an autobiography. Who better to relate their life story than the person who lived it? Sure, some people absolutely suck at reading and shouldn't be allowed in a recording studio. Cranston's not one of them. He's got a great reading voice and he knows the passages requiring special inflection. At certain points, he acts this book and it's all the better for it.
As I alluded to earlier, Cranston has had an interesting life. From early childhood onward, his life has been a rollercoaster of unlikely twists and turns, pockmarked by the occasional emotional landmine. Even his parents provide intrigue and his take on their colorful pasts gives insight into his own.
After a thorough and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of his youth and early career paths, A Life in Parts takes us right up through Breaking Bad and a bit beyond. Being such a big BB fan, I knew I was going to enjoy that part of the book. However, I was extremely pleased to find myself fully engaged through out this most excellent autobio.
I give my highest recommendations for Cranston fans. Hell, I'd recommend this even if you weren't familiar with his work. If you like a good biography, this one won't let you down!
In this shorty-short, who-wears-short-shorts?, short story wee Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot makes aCome on, Poirot! Get off your backside!
In this shorty-short, who-wears-short-shorts?, short story wee Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot makes a bet with Inspector Japp that he can solve a case without so much as setting foot outside his door.
Clues are related to him. He asks seemingly non-sensical questions. His friends think him batty. And then he solves the damn mystery, as per usual.
This story of a man gone missing is not a mindbender and any fan of mysteries stands a solid chance of solving this one before Poirot reveals all, but The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim is a nice little diversion if you have a half hour to fill. ...more
A movie star is worried about threats she is receiving about her very expensive diamond. She goes to Hercule Poirot for advice. A few quick deductionsA movie star is worried about threats she is receiving about her very expensive diamond. She goes to Hercule Poirot for advice. A few quick deductions and rushed scenes later, and the mystery is solved!
This short story is filled with mystery tropes galore. At one point the lights actually go out and...hey presto!...the diamond is stolen.
I can't say The Adventure of the ‘Western Star' was a particularly fun read for me. The story is hackneyed by today's standards. When it came out in the 1920s it must have felt quite fresh and inventive. But so many books, shows and movies have copied this scenario since then that I knew exactly what was coming and "whodunnit". Of course, that's not Christie's fault...
I guess the true fault lies in the lack of effort here. Even if the plot hadn't been played out, the story feels rushed and unsubstantial. This is not her best work by a long shot....more
I read as much as I could stand. It's not that it's bad, it's just too teen-oriented for my tastes. So, does anyone have any fantasy recommendations?I read as much as I could stand. It's not that it's bad, it's just too teen-oriented for my tastes. So, does anyone have any fantasy recommendations? Something more in the adult line, say, on par with Game of Thrones. I know that GoT centers on plenty of teens, so it might seem hypocritical, but their characters/scenes were handled on a mature level....more
This was not...what's the word I'm looking for?....good. This was not good.
I don't blame the story, so much as the production. I got Acid Bath from tThis was not...what's the word I'm looking for?....good. This was not good.
I don't blame the story, so much as the production. I got Acid Bath from the Black Gold library system and listened to this short story during one quick walk down to the post office and a bit of yard work on my return. Unlike most audiobooks, it was produced like a radio drama with sound effects and ambient music, none of which was particular necessary. Aside from the overlong playing of some adult contemporary pop-schlock at the end, it didn't add or detract from the overall experience.
What really did detract from the reading was the voice, cadence and pronunciation of the narrator. He sounded like a robotic German struggling with the English. This was perfect for the robot speaking parts, but those were minimal.
The story itself is solid. It's a nice, quick action piece set on an asteroid, where a human is pitted against mechanical aliens wishing to do some testing on their captive. The author wastes no time and jumps right into it. We get very little character depth, but that's hardly to be expected in such a short work. The plot could've been deepened with a craftier twist ending, but hey, this was written in the '50s, so I'm willing to give it that forerunner, originator pass.
Not a bad little story, but I would suggest just reading it. Don't seek out this audio version.
These Matthew Scudder books aren't action-packed, sometimes they're even slow, but boy howdy, do I ever enjoy them!
I like the picture you get of New YThese Matthew Scudder books aren't action-packed, sometimes they're even slow, but boy howdy, do I ever enjoy them!
I like the picture you get of New York City in the '70s (At least with these first few books in the series. I'm not sure about the rest, because I haven't read them). I love Scudder's character. He's not in it for the money. Admirable. I like the light mystery involved in each book. Lawrence Block keeps you guessing! All of these things and probably a few more I'm forgetting right now just jive really well with my reading tastes!
Usually with these books there's a certain amount of psychology, as in the psychology of the killer. However, in A Stab in the Dark we get even more of a look at "why?". Psycho killers and their copycats are given a decent an examination here. It's not super deep. These Scudder books are fairly short after all. However, it is about as long as you'd want it to be in a crime fiction pleasure read.
So, book #4 in the series was a success and I'll definitely be moving on to #5!...more