This is one of my favorite Boynton books. I can't wait for my son to actually sit still enough to read it with me. Right now he's more interested in tThis is one of my favorite Boynton books. I can't wait for my son to actually sit still enough to read it with me. Right now he's more interested in taking it from me and turning the pages on his own....more
And Then There Were None is the first novel by famed author Agatha Christie I've ever read. A facTo read the full discussion, visit Dueling Librarians
And Then There Were None is the first novel by famed author Agatha Christie I've ever read. A fact, which after having read it, is totally surprising to me. It's easy to say I enjoyed the novel immensely. It even managed to creep me out on a few occasions to the point that I scampered past unlit rooms on my way to bed. Yet, there was one aspect that felt like someone standing just outside the library waiting to bludgeon me with the candlestick: I knew the who the murder was.
Considered one of Christie's best novels, it's impossible to know how or by whom all the killings were committed without the epilogue. So, you may ask, how did I know who the killer was? After becoming confused by all the characters introduced in the first chapter (10 people accused of at least one other person's death), I decided to look them up online, and mistakenly chose the Wikipedia article on the novel.
In the third or so entry of the character list, the article gives away who the murder is. Who does that? Who gives the murder away in the character sketch? The plot summary sure, but the character list? I was pretty angry to say the least. Like a person who has just walked in to see their parents shagging, I tried desperately to forget what I had read. But sadly, there are some things you just can't unsee.
Despite this foreknowledge, I still enjoyed the book, which is saying something. Christie keeps the suspense high, the characters reactions believable, and the atmosphere heavy and dark. In fact, the novel is one of Christie's most successful, outselling all of her other books, and is one of the most read books in the mystery genre, as well as one of the best selling books of all time.
Christie introduces her cast of shady characters as they are en route to Indian Island (a name, much like the title and sections of the book, have and continue to go through edits by the Christie Estate), where the mysterious U.N. Owen has invited them to stay for a quiet vacation. The strangers find themselves on a secluded island, with no way off until the boat from the mainland comes the following day. Each person finds a room to their liking, and in each hangs the macabre poem, Ten Little Indians, along with 10 Indian figurines in the dining room. Curiously, each person who dies, does so in a similar fashion to the corresponding Indian in the poem. When a new person is killed, the killer surreptitiously removes one of the figurines, adding to the misgivings of the remaining guests.
Christie continually makes a point of telling the reader how modern the house is the accused criminals find themselves occupying. There are no nooks, no crannies, no place for anyone to hide, and all the corners are well lit by electric lighting. Wholly, it is a welcoming and warm place to stay. That is until people start dropping dead. Slowly the house becomes a place of death. As people die, their bodies are placed in their former rooms, essentially transforming the once inviting home into a crypt.
Filled with foreshadowing, suspense, dark imagery, and great characters, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None is a fantastic murder mystery. I highly recommend it....more
What can one say about a book this inspirational? After finishing it this morning during my morning absolutions, I couldn't wait to begin my life prouWhat can one say about a book this inspirational? After finishing it this morning during my morning absolutions, I couldn't wait to begin my life proudly stealing like an artist. Something I had been doing my whole life, but denying it to the end. The ten simple, philosophical insights and truths Austin Kleon outlines in Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, aren't just for for artists, they are for anyone with goals, aspirations, dreams, and hopes. Most of it is common sense, but everyone needs a little assistance from time to time remembering what they already know.
Kleon's advice, something he astutely points out is what we would say to our younger selves if given a chance, is applicable across the board for those who have a creative desire. This doesn't just mean art. It can easily be applied to other aspect of life such as business plans, gardening, carpentry, or research. The underlining theme is, stop making excuses, and make something. The rest is a collection of ways to help you get started. Kleon tells us to carry a paper and a pen everywhere. Note interesting things happening around us. Find someone who inspires us, and see who and what inspires them. Move around, stagnation is the death to creative activity. Be boring, people who are out all the time never get anything done. Routines are good. They ensure that we have time to do the things we want to do. Take walks. Start a log book. Hang out with creative people. Write fan letters. Be nice. Start today!
You get the picture.
So in honor of this fabulous book I think everyone should have in their library, I am writing my fan letter in the form of a glowing book review. Maybe Kleon will see it. Most likely not. But that doesn't matter. The important bit is that I wrote it. I created something. And if he does ever see it, maybe he'll put this review in his “praise file.” Now go be creative!...more
This is one of the best children's books I have ever read. I cracked up so hard, I had to read it a second time. This is right up there with Go the FuThis is one of the best children's books I have ever read. I cracked up so hard, I had to read it a second time. This is right up there with Go the Fu. Clever, funny, ironic, and truthful. We have all been in the bear's place, looking longingly for something we've lost that meant a lot to us. One can't help but empathize with him. Our resolution may have not have been the same, at least I hope it wasn't. If you have kids do yourself a favor if you don't check out I Want My Hat Back. You won't be sorry....more
I can't express how happy I am to live in a modern, westernized country where women can do as they please, for the most part. It's still inadvisable tI can't express how happy I am to live in a modern, westernized country where women can do as they please, for the most part. It's still inadvisable to walk alone at night in most urban areas, and there are precautions that women need to take that may not occur to men.* It's easy to see why so many women were locked away in mental institutions or the backrooms of their family homes during the Victorian Era. Written off as insane instead of the intelligent humans they truly were, in need of intelligent pursuits which couldn't be satisfied by needlepoint or gossip. I would have gone absolutely stark raving mad if I had been subjected to even a smidgin of the repressive social expectations that the Talbot sisters had to endure. Elaine di Rollo's novel, A Proper Education for Girls takes a microscope to a family of privilege, and examines the idiosyncrasies and prejudices produced by Victorian ideals.
Elaine di Rollo's premier novel about two sisters (the surviving pair from a triplet birth), Lilian and Alice Talbot is a lesson in the ills of small minded men being in control of passionate and intelligent women. It's a novel of finding one's footing in a world where you have been taught to tread lightly and bring no offense to those around you.
The reader is introduced to the Talbot household through a series of flashbacks that bring the reader up-to-date without giving away too much. di Rollo's style, wit and dark humor remind me of Edward Gory if he were to have written a novel. The subject manner is dark, and at points made me cringe, and all the while somehow keeping a light tone with a hit of hysteria behind it. After all, the perceptions that most of the characters have of Lillian and Alice is absolutely absurd, and one can't but laugh, even if what they're trying to do is horrific.
I did find myself more interested in Alice's story than of Lilian's, and I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps because Alice was still living with her demented hoarder of a father who is trying to fill his life with objects to make up for the fact that he didn't have a son. In addition to her father, there were the aunts and the grandmother who were great women, and I love everyone one of them. Along with this motley crew of relatives is a smattering of hired help that also makes Alice's sections enjoyable. Lillian on the other hand has been married off to a wet noodle of a man, and has far more freedom to move about as she pleases while Alice is a virtual prisoner in her father's home. In addition, the only character I found likable in Lilian's section is Captain Forbes who is a closet feminist. The rest, with the exception to Lilian herself, are just horrible, vapid people.
Over all I really like this book. It has a wonderful ending reminiscent of Thelma and Louise, with a happy turn instead of a 400 foot drop into a ravine with no hope of survival. The characters were lively and unpredictable. There is suspense, humor, horror and even a little romance. di Rollo really did her homework with regard to the Victorian mindset and culture, using actual medical book, and travel narratives to create a realistic and colorful landscape. If you're into period novels with a twist, you'll enjoy A Proper Education for Girls.
*Leaving your first name off of your mailbox or door buzzer. This way people won't know whether your male or female just by looking at your name. Women being a bigger target for home invasions and robbery if it is felt they live alone. For most tips visit: http://simonesmith.hubpages.com/hub/S....
Julia Child's memoir of her time in France, the lovely people she met there, her wonderful and indispensable husband Paul Child, and the discover of hJulia Child's memoir of her time in France, the lovely people she met there, her wonderful and indispensable husband Paul Child, and the discover of her love for French cuisine (her passion), was a completely enjoyable journey. I absolutely loved this book. I found myself becoming completely invested in the Childs' life. Their trials, their laughs, and, well, their day to day activities. When Paul had stomach troubles and fell ill, I made audible sounds of concern earning me strange looks from my fellow BART riders. When Mastering the Art of French Cooking was finally published, I gave a little cheer. Luckily I was home for that one.
I'm not even a huge fan of French cooking, mostly because I feel many of their practices are inhuman to the animals they eat, and that everything is loaded with flour (I'm a celiac), but this book is just a gem. It's sweet, sincere, and relateable. I had a wonderful time witnessing Julia Child's journey to become the icon we all recognize. She was a genuinely likable person which makes her story all the more readable and enjoyable. Upon arriving in France with Paul, Julia is a sheltered, middle class American. True she had traveled to Asia with the U.S. Government, but she hadn't found her thing, so to speak, yet. By the time she and Paul move to Oslo five years later, she is a expert in French cuisine, fluent in French, and a had co-authored a classic cookbook (although it wouldn't be published for several years).
What I took away from My Life in France is that it's never too late to find you passion. Julia Child was in her 40s when she found hers. I do realize times have changed. If it hadn't been for Paul Child's ability to support Julia financially and physiologically, we wouldn't have the Julia Child we all know. Nowadays people have to work twice as hard to make their dreams come true, especially women with families. That being said, I found My Life in France to be inspirational, fun, heartfelt, and endearing. I highly recommend it to just about everyone.
Christopher Moore is a watershed author for me. After I earned my BA in English Lit, I never wanted to reTo read the duel, go to DuelingLibrarians.net
Christopher Moore is a watershed author for me. After I earned my BA in English Lit, I never wanted to read again. In fact, the idea of reading depressed me. This went on for years. After some prompting from a friend and avid reader, I agreed to give Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story a try, and bam! The haze was lifted. I rediscovered my love of reading.
There are a couple reasons I enjoy Moore's writing so much. The first is the short chapter. I am a lover of the short chapter, and Moore nails it in the Island of the Sequined Love Nun. I am the mom of a toddler and have very little down time, plus I dislike leaving chapters unfinished. So when I'm given a book with three to four page chapters, I am in heaven.
Next, he's hysterical. I laughed out loud at his witty dialog, crazy scenarios, and certifiable characters. Tom Robbins is one of my favorite authors, and I was reminded of him while reading Love Nun, especially with regard to the main character Tucker Case (more about him in a bit), and his mentor and buddy Jake Skye. While no one is exactly like Robbins, (he's one of a kind), every now and again, Love Nun walked the line of graphic hilarity and crazy schemes Robbins is so good at. I urge you to check out Another Roadside Attraction if you haven't already.
So let's break down Love Nun. Our hero Tucker Case (Tuck) is a pilot who faces criminal charges after a crash. Running from possible jail time and castration from his former employer, Mary Jean, he takes a job offer flying supplies for a missionary couple, the seemingly straight-laced Sebastian and Beth Curtis, on a remote island in Micronesian. Here Tuck will be challenged to do something he's never done before; take responsibility.
Tuck's past sets him up to be the Hamlet of the novel. His comical parallels with the forlorn prince give the reader a chance to see what Hamlet's story may have become if he'd written his family off instead of becoming consumed with revenge.
In addition we have a fantastic crew of island natives known as the Shark People. These once cannibalistic folk worship a deity named Vincent who once brought them supplies in the 1940s; Kimi, the happy go lucky Pilipino navigator with a sad past; Jake Skye, the grungy mechanic and indiscriminate lover of women; Mary Jean, the owner and operator of a multimillion dollar cosmetic company, complete with pink jet, a noticeable nod to the Mary Kay corporation; and finally the missionary doctor and his knockout Barbie-like surgical nurse and wife.
In the middle of the witty humor slathered throughout Love Nun, there is a much deeper and darker story that addresses the potential of unchecked religious power to manipulate its followers into giving a proverbial pound of flesh. It's a piercing and profound subtext of what could happen if religious figures started asking for more than monetary donations and prayers.
Would I recommend Island of the Sequined Love Nun? Absolutely. Will I be reading more books by Moore? You bet your ass I will. Love Nun has gotten him into my Favorite Author Club, sandwiched between Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. It truly is a well-earned seat of honor.
In 1991, then aspiring journalist Tony Horwitz traveled to the Middle East, following his journalist wife, Geraldine Brooks, who had been stationed inIn 1991, then aspiring journalist Tony Horwitz traveled to the Middle East, following his journalist wife, Geraldine Brooks, who had been stationed in Cairo there as a foreign correspond. Horwitz decided to go freelance, traveling across Arabia in the hopes of breaking a story that would make him a household name. He did manage to get a few front page articles, but what he brought back in manuscript form was delightful, sadistic, full of beauty and pain. In short, Baghdad Without A Map is an amazing addition to any library, taking the reader to ancient locals to meet the fascinating residents.
Being able to travel through Muslim countries as Horwitz has and still does, can really only be accomplished by a man. I felt a bit cheated by this, have flashbacks to the days when I read the Beat poets back in college, thinking how unfair it was that only someone sans vagina could have experienced what they experienced. It's a man's world, plain and simple. However Horwitz's writing is so open and honest that my resentment soon fell away, and I was left with nothing more than an inspiring tale of fishermen piloting mine infested waters, veiled women, plump exotic dancers, crumbling facades and infrastructures, and corrupt and eccentric leaders. I was shocked, horrified, and saddened. I laughed and smiled at the colorful cast of characters Horwitz meets along his travels and their heroic means of living life one day at a time. In some cases, minuet by minuet.
Parts of the novel I expected, such as the treatment of women, the oppressive regimes of Saddam Hussein and Mummar Gaddafi and their propaganda machines. What I didn't expect was the hospitality Horwitz received from most of the Arab countries he visited. That that I didn't expect people to be polite and honorable. I didn't expect them to be a welcoming to someone from the United States. When people don't have much to share, but do with open arms, it makes one reflect on their own dealings. The standard greeting in Cairo is a key example:
In Egypt it is considered abrupt to being any conversation without at least of the following: Good morning. Good morning to you. Good morning of light. Good morning of roses. Good morning of jasmines (and so on, through the rest of the garden). And how are you? Fine, and you? Fine also, thanks be to God. Thanks to God. Welcome, most welcome. Welcome to you. (Chorus) p.137
In short, I loved Baghdad Without A Map. I drank up Horwitz's words like the hot and thirsty desert does the rain in monsoon season. I highly recommend it....more
As a progressive women born and raised in the United States, I have a particular view of Middle Eastern countries, especially when it comes to the treAs a progressive women born and raised in the United States, I have a particular view of Middle Eastern countries, especially when it comes to the treatment of women at the hand of religious fundamentalist in those countries. Most of the stories I've read come from male journalists traveling as foreign corespondents. I had thought that depictions brought to the west from exotic and oppressive counties could really only be delivered by a man, since a women's movements are so restricted. Then I stumbled upon Persepolis on a bookshelf at a friend's home, and asked to borrow it. I had been meaning to read Marjane Satrapi's memoir for several years, and now that the opportunity had presented itself, I didn't let door go unanswered.
Satrapi begins Persepolis with an albeit brief but very informative history of what was once Persia, but is now Iran. This rich memoir of an ancient land tells a story not solely of veiled women and car bombers, but of a people trying to live under an oppressive regime, some of whom lost their lives for being outspoken opponents to the government while others fled with their families for fear of death or years of imprisonment and torture. Satrapi gives an account of a polarized society, veiled and hidden from view while in public, but open and political behind closed doors.
Marjane's parents begin to fear for their independent daughter's safety, and send her to school in Europe, where she begins a very different journey, one filled with self-discovery, cultural crisis and loneliness. None of people Marjane meets truly understands her life before coming to Vienna, and she finds their self-contrived teenage martyrdom rightfully tiresome.
Persepolis is the story of a young girl, growing up in a progressive and wealthy county, with two well educated parents and a stoic grandmother, who taught her to think for herself and have her own opinions, much to her detriment when the new regime comes into power. After the Islamic revolution, the Iran Marjane had begun her life in is stripped away of it's personal freedoms. She now enters her adolescence listening to the horrific stories from relatives and close family friends who were tortured or executed for protesting the revolution. The free Iran Marjane was born into is replaced by informers, blackout blinds, and fearful distrust.
This is a bittersweet story, as all good memoirs are, but Satrapi takes her beautiful biography one step further by handing over to her readers a graphic novel instead of some run of the mill doorstop of a book. Inspired by Dialectic Materialism a Marxist comic book from her youth where Marx and Descartes would banter about reality, Satrapi translates her life into vivid black and white sketches.
Persepolis is a tale of survival, love, freedom, patriotism, cultural identity, pride in one's beginnings, and personal growth. Satrapi gives her readers a unique perspective of a culture so far removed from most westerners, that all we have to go on is speculation and assumptions. I highly recommend this book.