So the Book Maven's a little late to the party when it comes to this little rabble-rouser (rabblerabblerabble!) of a book, in which a nonfiction journ...moreSo the Book Maven's a little late to the party when it comes to this little rabble-rouser (rabblerabblerabble!) of a book, in which a nonfiction journalist and an economist team up to explain a number of seemingly unrelated phenomena--such as the relation between the legalization of abortion and lowered crime rates. Or, perhaps slightly less controversially (although not by much), how KKK members are similar to real estate agents. (I won't be floating that one past my real estate agent, and I strongly encourage you to follow my lead.)
If you think that this book would be either bizarre, or confusing, or boring, you would be mistaken; it is none of these things. Author Dubner takes Author Levitt's facts and explanations and anecdotes and weaves them into entertaining and understandable stories, and more importantly, weaves them together into a book that is both coherent and well-ordered. The book is packed with facts, of course, and all sorts of interpretations of data, and if you are anything like me, soon enough these facts will be gone from our brain. But the "moral of the story" (or, as the authors put it, the "unifying theme") will, or at least should remain with us for a good long time: dig a little deeper. Don't be so ready to accept "conventional wisdom" at face value. Question everything.
And if you already DO question everything, well, yay! you. Go and get a cookie. And read this book anyway.(less)
Quite simply, I rated this book so highly not only based on its plot and storyline and action, but because it is AWESOME to encounter a mystery novel...moreQuite simply, I rated this book so highly not only based on its plot and storyline and action, but because it is AWESOME to encounter a mystery novel in which the woman is the beat-em-up, shoot-to-kill tough woman.
We need more books like that, that aren't aimply thinly-veiled tawdry romances.
Only other thing I have to say is this: the majority of the novel was set in my hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida, and I can promise you, Sharp did her research. She knows her craft. (less)
Holy crap, thus far I am completely unimpressed with this book. My first and actually, only beef with it is that it is historically inaccurate. It por...moreHoly crap, thus far I am completely unimpressed with this book. My first and actually, only beef with it is that it is historically inaccurate. It portrays Catharine as a teenage girl who marries a young man after she begs the king to intercede and prevent her family from marrying her to the young man's grandfather. Um, that is TOTAL POPPYCOCK. In real life, Parr's first husband was, in fact, a very elderly man, the grandfather that she does not marry in the book. Why would the author deviate so blatantly? Yeah, she was 17 and had to marry a grandpa. That's how it worked! What the heck?!? Why make something SO inaccurate?!?(less)
Meh. Honestly, I didn't see what the hype was about.
Alright, the gist of the story: man and woman acquire dog--a cute, endearing yellow lab. Honeymoo...moreMeh. Honestly, I didn't see what the hype was about.
Alright, the gist of the story: man and woman acquire dog--a cute, endearing yellow lab. Honeymoon is soon over as the puppy grows into a neurotic, destructive, but ultimately lovable dog. Lovable, neurotic dog keeps life entertaining and eventually croaks.
Lots of details about domestic life in this book; I enjoyed that. I think it would be a good primary historical document with evidence of how late-20th century families lived and thrived. But that's beside the point.
If you like this book, and like all animals, try The Cat That Went to Paris series, by Peter Gethers. Funnier, more descriptive, and goes on for three books.(less)
Of Perry's Christmas mysteries, this is the one that I enjoyed the most--which isn't saying much. A few more red herrings, better character developmen...moreOf Perry's Christmas mysteries, this is the one that I enjoyed the most--which isn't saying much. A few more red herrings, better character development, and a much better attempt at setting set it apart from her others.
Still, I think that if Perry wishes to truly live up to her considerable talent, she should try for a full-length Christmas mystery.(less)
This was a quick read, but a very charming account of an outsider's view of America...and also a view of how America's melting pot has evolved.
Dumas'...moreThis was a quick read, but a very charming account of an outsider's view of America...and also a view of how America's melting pot has evolved.
Dumas' family came over from Iran in the 1970s, prior to the Revolution. The America of the seventies was very different from America of today (duh)--most people did not know where Iran was, there were few if any "international" grocery stores, and after the Revolution, Dumas' father faced massive racial and ethnic discrimination in the job market, as time and again he was either fired or rejected from jobs based on his origins.
Granted, contemporary America still has its quirks and prejudices, especially post 9-11, but I'd like to think we are a little more exposed to international cultures and is a little more tolerant. Funny in Farsi doesn't just show one Iranian family's adjustment to America, but America's adjustment to everyone else.(less)
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm an old-fashioned kinda girl; I have no problems reading the little darlings the old-school,...moreHorrifying, on so many levels.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm an old-fashioned kinda girl; I have no problems reading the little darlings the old-school, scary versions of the fairy tales, for example. But this book...I dunno. Something makes me hesitate to recommend it as a book to share with the kiddles. Also, it makes me never want to have a decorative, non-sealed sugar jar again, ever.
Basically, the premise is this: a colony of ants discovers a great big supply of sugar crystals to bring to the queen of the colony. But two little ants decide it's best to just stick around the sugar jar their entire life, feasting on the crystals. All well and good until the next morning, when they are scooped out, boiled in coffee, burnt in a toaster, washed into a garbage disposal, and sizzled in an eletrical socket (following this, they are "blown out of the holes like bullets from a gun.") At the end of their adventure, they manage to survive and return to the colony, grateful to be back home and serving their mom-queen.
Somehow, this feels less like a story about two bad ants and more of a cautionary tale about the perils of running away from home.(less)
Having no children of my own, I'm a little bit clueless about the whole American Girls craze. I know there are dolls and fiction books and stores. How...moreHaving no children of my own, I'm a little bit clueless about the whole American Girls craze. I know there are dolls and fiction books and stores. However, I didn't know that there are nonfiction books as well. When I scooped this one up though, I was instantly charmed--the detailed illustrations of pioneer life in the Midwest and the Great Plains reminded me, so much, of the intriguing social studies books from elementary school.
(Yes, I've always been a history geek.)
Not only are there illustrations, but there are plenty of color photographs, too, of authentic artifacts from the time period, accompanied by fairly detailed text including explanation and even the vernacular of the days, plus a little bit of narrative tying it into the American Girls storyline. Not only that, but there's plenty of info packed in there about the Native American tribes of the area.
This is a high-quality nonfiction book that will be a perfect tie-in for both the American Girls series and curious children wanting to supplement what they learn in school .(less)
Meh; I found this book rather mediocre. I love Christmas, and therefore love Christmas novels, but I have a realistic view of them: like Christmas alb...moreMeh; I found this book rather mediocre. I love Christmas, and therefore love Christmas novels, but I have a realistic view of them: like Christmas albums by famous musicians, Christmas novels by famous authors do not showcase their talent, but rather hop on the cash-horse that is Christmas.
Perhaps my expectations were too high; I think what I was looking for were some insights on how Christmas was celebrated by the Victorians. No such luck here.
Also, this book was less twisty than Perry's other books; the story was fairly straightforward: An assortment of guests gather at a wealthy manor house and during the course of festivities, one jealous woman says something nasty to the other, who then goes on and kills herself. The first woman is practically driven from the house on a quest of atonement, and in the process the mystery of why the second woman would kill herself over a snide comment is solved.
Few twists, little character development, and not even great setting and atmosphere. Meh all around.(less)
A spoof on the British royal family, Freddy and Fredericka tell the story of the Prince and Princess of Wales,...moreWoooo, doggy, this one was a dense one.
A spoof on the British royal family, Freddy and Fredericka tell the story of the Prince and Princess of Wales, the title characters. They are next in line for the throne, and hopelessly ill-equipped for the weighty responsibilities, traditions, customs, and gravity that come with this position. At least vapid, materialistic, uneducated Fredericka is unready; Freddy has a deep awareness of his destiny, but his over-educated dialog, arcane sense of humor, intellectual snobbery, and complete obliviousness alienate him from the subjects who need to love him if he is to rule.
What's a royal family to do? Abdandon the Prince and Princess to reconquer a savage colony and become worthy of their throne and destiny. And so they are dropped from an airplane over New Jersey, almost naked but for their parachutes, and told not to return until they have earned the right to rule.
It's a bizarre and absurd book, yet incredibly funny. Freddy and Fredericka are hopelessly flawed, deeply human, and therefore incredibly lovable and endearing. If you are an anglophile, a British historian, a lover of all things English, you should read this book. Time and time again, it returns to the themes of destiny, the heritage of history, the bloodlines of families, and the beauty of England. It put into words the love for England that I have always had difficulty articulating. All in all, I think it was a masterpiece.(less)
Lordy, lately I’ve read so many books about ladies in Renaissance Italy, I keep expecting the characters of one novel to wander off the pages of their...moreLordy, lately I’ve read so many books about ladies in Renaissance Italy, I keep expecting the characters of one novel to wander off the pages of their own book and show up in another, re-living the same events. Oh dear! It’s the bonfire of the vanities! Alessandra from The Birth of Venus and Grazia from this novel may as well be peering down at it from opposite houses. Alas, that Lucrezia Borgia—is she the pawn of Blood and Beauty or the incestuous harlot in this story? God help us, Rome has been sacked! Did the famed Fiametta Banchini from In the Company of the Courtesan happen to encounter Grazia as they were both fleeing the city?
You get the idea.
At least this book has the added feature of a heroine distinguished by her Jewish religion, which brings an additional sense of peril to the text. From a young age, Grazia was exposed to the mercurial temperament of the Italian rulers and their citizens, who could and did turn on them on a dime—or, more specifically, whenever there was a plague, a crop failure, a war going badly, or whenever they simply wanted to shirk out of the money owed to the banks. Over the course of her life, Grazia found herself challenged, time and again, by the tenets of her faith versus the pull of her heart, which was forever pledged to a Christian man—a cousin of the d’Este family and therefore closely connected with Isabella d’Este, Grazia’s overbearing and not-always-helpful patroness.
As in most of the best historical novels, the rich details of Renaissance Italy, coupled with the author’s talent in drawing them out without sending the reader to sleep, is what really makes this a satisfying and rewarding novel. (less)
A story about an old Boston family who falls on hard times and has to economize and face the fact that they have frittered away their family fortune....moreA story about an old Boston family who falls on hard times and has to economize and face the fact that they have frittered away their family fortune. A modern take on Persuasion if I recall correctly.(less)
More antics from the unlikely setting of Mooreland, Indiana--Zippy's back in her sequel to A Girl Named Zippy. I give this one five stars because I a...moreMore antics from the unlikely setting of Mooreland, Indiana--Zippy's back in her sequel to A Girl Named Zippy. I give this one five stars because I am biased towards anything that has Indiana in it. You get more of a feel for Zippy's parents--two negligent, essentially half-assed and selfish people whom Zippy regards with love and loyalty, nonetheless. I think what I found most endearing and poignant (yet inexplicably frustrating) was how she relates her parents' (many, many) failings so matter-of-factly, without resentment or reproach, but rather simply an acceptance of that being the way they were.
If you dream of a childhood and a life in Middle America, this is an excellent exploration of it. (less)
Now that the Ankh-Morpork Post Office is running smoothly, Moist is starting to get a little restless--the honest, safe, staid life he has been leadin...moreNow that the Ankh-Morpork Post Office is running smoothly, Moist is starting to get a little restless--the honest, safe, staid life he has been leading is starting to get a little too humdrum for his tastes. Enter Lord Vetinari, the stylish, pragmatic City Despot-cum-Patrician, with a new ingenious scheme: Moist is manipulated into taking over the the Royal Bank, and soon finds himself once again using his dishonest instincts to achieve honest ends. Along for the ride are a closeted clown with an uncanny penchant for numbers, a mutt dog with a disturbing taste for caramel, a resurrected lecher-professor-ghost, and an insane Lord Vetinari-wannabe. Add these all together and you've got Terry Pratchett's newest Discworld novel, filled with his usual wit, entendre, word play, and subtle satire. Pratchett is twelve kinds of awesome--or maybe fourteen, for all I know, and this one is well worth your time. (less)
**spoiler alert** If I had read Ethan Watters a handful of years ago, when I hovered on the brink of 30, resided far from my blood relatives, and exis...more**spoiler alert** If I had read Ethan Watters a handful of years ago, when I hovered on the brink of 30, resided far from my blood relatives, and existed in mortal dread of being the "old maid librarian", perhaps I would have readjusted my mindset. Watters presents to American "never marrieds" a viable alternative to the traditional family structure.
So you're 32 and single? You're not broken. There's nothing wrong with you. It's the logical result of pursuing a higher education and/or career and/or creative outlets. You don't have a spouse and kids, true, but you have an "urban tribe"--an entity that grew out of the economic prosperity and the social freedoms of the latter part of the 20th century. Your urban tribe is composed of friends, roommates,colleagues--people who provide you emotional, professional, and sometimes even financial support. They are the people you turn to, in lieu of your parents or spouse of children. They are, in a way, your non-blood family.
As Watters examines the development and dynamics of urban tribes, he also quietly asks another questions--are these tribes preventing people from marriage? Are they contributing to a delay in their development into adults? And why ARE so many of us still single, anyway? This last question, treated later in the book, seems somewhat extraneous and off-topic, but as my copy of this book is an ARC, I am uncertain as to whether this section made it into the final draft,
There is much in this book that is useful and encouraging, but the problem is that it exists inside a vaccuum. There are too many elements of this book that will date it and limit its shelf life--in addition to the references to answering machines, and books such as The Rules and shows such as Sex and the City and Friends--the chief issue with it is that it reflects the zeitgeist that was at least responsible for its creation--the heady optimism that many of my generation were feeling when it was published, prior to the Great Recession.
Oddly enough, the references that will make this book problematic within the next 20 years, will give it an unintended advantage 50 years from now, and beyond. Because of its references, because of its quietly cheerful outlook, because of the socio-economic context in which it was written, it will one day make an excellent "primary document" reflecting the long-ago, far-off Western society of "New Millenium."