Given that Laura Ingalls Wilder is near the top of my list of famous people I'd like to meet in Heaven, I could not wait to read this book by a fellow...moreGiven that Laura Ingalls Wilder is near the top of my list of famous people I'd like to meet in Heaven, I could not wait to read this book by a fellow Wilder/Little House groupie. To that end, The Wilder Life was an enjoyable trip through the mind of a person a lot like me.
Parts of McClure's quest to find a real life Laura World were laugh-out-loud funny (especially the bit about churning butter by hand), while other moments were poignant and touching. I understood fully her sadness and frustration when Laura World always seemed just out of reach even when surrounded by the places and things that the real life Laura had touched. The Little House books create an almost magical world that invite you in and leave you wanting so much to be able to travel back in time. Part of the problem is knowing that while the books are fiction, so much of them is rooted in Laura Wilder's real childhood and experiences. They simply don't read as "made up", so believing that a perfect, more simple time and place once existed is far too easy.
One thing McClure's book did is inspire me to set out on a tour of the Laura Homes myself, perhaps not in the very near future but soon. She offers up a handful of facts about the Ingalls family that I did not know even after having read a few biographies as well as extensive insight into the life and influence of Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. I'm excited to visit the real locations to see if I can find a bit of Laura World myself.
A must-read for any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan.(less)
A must read for any parent of a daughter. Whether your own child is going through the hell that is relational aggression or if she is a perpetrator, S...moreA must read for any parent of a daughter. Whether your own child is going through the hell that is relational aggression or if she is a perpetrator, Simmons' book shines a light on how our entire society sets girls up to fail each other. By insisting that nice girls only act "nice", we leave them no acceptable way to handle their natural angers, frustrations and hostilities. They are forced to subvert their feelings which eventually come out in all of the cruel behaviours girls are known for.
This book will break your heart. It will also open your eyes and show you that things must change or girls will always be cruel to each other. (less)
A light read about the behind-the-scenes world of American Idol. This book gives a brief history of how the show came to be and how things have change...moreA light read about the behind-the-scenes world of American Idol. This book gives a brief history of how the show came to be and how things have changed throughout the seasons. The focus is heavier on the judges (especially Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul) than on the contestants, so those expecting or wanting insider info or details about individual performers will not find much. Even the details about the nine winners are skimpy with almost nothing on recent champs Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze. Too, if you are an avid watcher of Idol throughout the years, none of the scandals revealed in the book will be any surprise. Entertaining but not uber-revealing.(less)
Unfortunately, this book suffers from the author's apparent needs to 1) come off as modest and self-effacing and 2) not offend or piss off anyone in t...moreUnfortunately, this book suffers from the author's apparent needs to 1) come off as modest and self-effacing and 2) not offend or piss off anyone in the movie industry.
I was fascinated to read an insider's story about what it had been like to film my favorite movie trilogy of all times - Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. And who better to tell this tale than Samwise Gamgee himself, actor Sean Astin.
Rather than a narrative or collection of anecdotes about what filming such an epic film had been like, Astin meanders all over the place, introducing event and industry people who had little to do with the movies but in some way affected his life. Too, Astin spends inordinate amount of time confessing how he often felt jealous of other actors and directors or envious of their talents/breaks/successes/whathaveyou as some sort of explanation from what I can only imagine had been some douchey behaviour on his part.
Whenever Astin came remotely close to criticizing a fellow actor or director, he was quick to clarify that his first impression had been wrong or that he was in some way at fault for his feelings or that, really, despite behaving like a jerk, that person really was quite a great guy/girl. It was as if Astin feared that everyone would read this book and if he pissed off the wrong person, his career might be in jeopardy.
Too, Astin would stick a toe over the line of boastfulness only to then throw a 180 degree turn and spend paragraphs reiterating how his accomplishments are nothing to be proud of and that others surely would do at least as well. It reminded me much of a person who purposely insults himself only so that others will reassure him of his own greatness.
These problems conspired to create not an insider's glimpse into the adventure of making TLotR trilogy but a faintly sycophantic, self-promoting plea for recognition for his part in something great.
An excellent first-hand account of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Junger spent five months embedded with soldiers deployed in the Korengal Valley, th...moreAn excellent first-hand account of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Junger spent five months embedded with soldiers deployed in the Korengal Valley, the most dangerous place in the current wars with Afghanistan and Iraq. He maintains a neutral journalistic viewpoint, implying no opinion on the validity of the war, however his depiction of what the soldiers endure on a day to day basis as well as the losses suffered both in lives and mental health do much to raise questions about the cost-benefit for America's ongoing presence there.
The only problems I had with this book: Other than a simple map in the front of the book, there are no pictures and/or illustrations. I would have loved to have photos of the area since Junger references them constantly. Too, I always appreciate having faces to put to the names of the men in the stories.
Also, Junger sometimes goes into a level of detail about various missions and firefights that cause my eyes to glaze over. While fascinating, it becomes very hard to follow since it is a highly physical thing that is better seen and virtually impossible to describe. By the end, I tended to skim over details about specific action-heavy events.
And lastly, I would have loved a final, follow-up chapter that documented where these soldiers are today as well as acknowledge that the US decided to pull out of the Korengal Valley early in 2010, adding further questions to why we were ever there in the first place.
Overall, an excellent read that really helps bring the things these men have to endure to light. (less)