This book does a good job with hotel and restaurant recommendations but I don't feel like I have a great idea about what to do anywhere, especially inThis book does a good job with hotel and restaurant recommendations but I don't feel like I have a great idea about what to do anywhere, especially in Acadia. I know there's a separate book for the national park, but only 8 pages in this one, most of it just about the Loop Road and the Jordan Pond House, makes it not worth the money. I know I can use Tripadvisor to figure out what I want to do, but I like my travel books. I want all the details at my fingertips. I don't know if there are better books about coastal Maine, but there are definitely travel books with better layouts that I've used religiously for other parts of the world....more
When I have daydreams about packing up and moving to a new country, Spain is always the one that comes to mind. We visited in 2010 and just l2.5 Stars
When I have daydreams about packing up and moving to a new country, Spain is always the one that comes to mind. We visited in 2010 and just loved it. We felt welcome everywhere we went, the people seemed happy, and it just fit. Plus, my husband's bilingual. At least one of us could speak the language.
When I saw this as a free nook book, I had to download it. Here is a couple who did exactly what I would never be brave enough to do. And they aren't just moving to the city, which would probably be easier, but they're completely changing gears and buying a farm to breed alpacas. I'm not clear what the author's career was in England, but his wife was a dance teacher. Kudos to them!
I enjoyed the book well enough--it was cute--but I just felt that it needed to be edited a bit more. It is presented as a finished book, but it felt like pages from a journal. It was a bit disjointed with the flow being more along the lines of, "We did this, then we did that, then we did this other thing," with very little transition or filler.
And they have the worst luck with the alpacas! He kept saying that alpacas are supposed to be easy but I have to say, my grandparents and now my uncles have a small family farm with a few head of cattle. They have never had any kind of trouble like what I read about in here! I felt terrible for Alan and Lorna and the alpacas. They just had terrible luck.
Being so isolated out in the country, there's not a whole lot of commentary about how different things are. Well, there is, I just wanted more. Alan and Lorna are pretty self-sufficient with their farm and their animals, so it's not like they're making daily trips to the market or getting completely submersed in the culture. At least that's not what I took away from the book.
If you're looking for a cute enough read about some really cute animals and their brave owners, do go ahead and give this one a try. I personally just wanted a bit more depth and polish to the story....more
So, we all learned something about the Lewis & Clark expedition in school, right? They were the first official group to travel all the way to theSo, we all learned something about the Lewis & Clark expedition in school, right? They were the first official group to travel all the way to the Pacific coast and back, with brave Sacagawea leading the way, papoose strapped to her back. That's honestly pretty much all I knew. But there's got to be so much more to it than that. I wanted to know the real story so I grabbed this at the library.
Eh. I did learn a lot but this book is primarily a biography of Meriwether Lewis. I'm not clear how you separate Lewis from Clark when their names are so inextricably intertwined, but there you go. I was disappointed by that. I'm not being fair to the book--the subtitle does clearly state its about Captain Lewis--but I wanted more.
It read like hero worship. The author has retraced some of the routes the group followed many times, has obviously read a lot about Lewis and the rest of the Corps of Discovery and knows his stuff. But there were frequently statements that amounted to (NOT a direct quote; I've returned my copy to library already), "Can you imagine? He's practically an uneducated heathen but he discovered three new species on this day, eleven on this day, and stayed up late to take celestial observations that provided the most accurate maps known up to that time! And then wrote 2000 words about it! Holy smokes!" Am I exaggerating? Yes. But that's how it felt. Also, by focusing on Lewis so exclusively (again, that was the point of the book), it started to read like the rest of the men were just along for the ride. Lewis could have done it all by himself. I still couldn't name very many of the other men. Legendary Sacagawea is barely mentioned. Even when the Captain made some questionable decisions (granted, this did seem to be pretty rare), the author managed to explain them away with some sort of rationale. "Well, if he hadn't chased down those young Blackfeet, they might have run away and brought the rest of the tribe down on the group, and they all might have died!" Maybe, maybe not. But I wanted the facts, not the what ifs.
This book contained quite a bit of speculation for something that's nonfiction. I just wanted the facts in a readable format. Just in case the story of 30 or so men trekking across 7000 miles of uncharted wilderness wasn't dramatic enough, there would suddenly be something along the lines of (again, I'm paraphrasing), "It all worked out this time, but what if it hadn't? What if the trouble-making Sioux had decided to attack and kill the whole group? The expansion of the American West would have been delayed by years and years because Jefferson wouldn't have had time to mount another expedition and his successor thought the whole purchase was folly anyway." And then there was Lewis's moodiness. Maybe this is an accepted theory among historians but it bothered me to read (paraphrasing), "Perhaps Lewis was bipolar. His father suffered from terrible mood swings and Lewis did too. We'll never know. But if he was, the success of the expedition is an even bigger accomplishment!" That just bothered me. I think it was what I perceived as the lack of evidence to back such a claim up. He functioned admirably for a couple of years during this expedition. He got moody. Anyone living in such tight quarters with 30 other men would do the same. He either didn't keep journals for large chunks of time or they're lost to history. That doesn't add up to a bipolar diagnosis to me, but I can't claim to know very much about it. Had I known how Lewis died before reading this (I didn't), I might have bought it, but by the time I found out, it was too late and I was irritated.
I've dwelt too long on what I didn't like. Meriwether Lewis was truly an amazing man; a tireless, curious explorer; and a gifted leader. I did learn a lot about him and even the whole expedition. I just wanted so much more than what I found in these pages. If you're looking for a Lewis biography, by all means, grab this. If you want to know more about the Corps of Discovery in general, I'd recommend that you look elsewhere....more
Rick Bragg grew up poor in Alabama. His daddy was very rarely in the picture and his momma did the best she could at whatever job she could find to keRick Bragg grew up poor in Alabama. His daddy was very rarely in the picture and his momma did the best she could at whatever job she could find to keep her three sons fed. She mostly did the back-breaking work of picking cotton for very little pay. It wasn't easy to be a single mother in 1960ish Alabama but she did her best. In this memoir, Rick Bragg writes with deep love and hard truths about the sacrifices his momma made for him and his brothers and the life he was able to build because of her. He left the cotton fields of Alabama to become a Puliter-prize winning journalist for the New York Times. This is their story.
All of that up there sounds deadly serious but mostly what I took away from this book is humor and grace. Somehow Rick Bragg's first memoir is the last one I've read and I have literally laughed 'til I cried in every one. I've read my family members bits here and there and retold stories I remember and made everyone listening to me laugh too. Maybe they're just humoring me, but I don't think so.
Reading the other books first, I expected this one to be more about momma. (It's impossible to call her anything else. I went to an author signing and the first question anyone asked him was, "How's your momma doing'?" We were supposed to be there for his biography of Jerry Lee Lewis. Who wants to know about celebrities? We wanted to know about momma.) Which is stupid. They're all about momma. She is the heart of all these stories. So I guess what I mean is that I expected it to tell more of momma's own life story. It does but I still just want to know more about her. She probably doesn't want anything like that written about herself though. I can just imagine if I told my Mama that I was going to publish a book about her life. She'd pitch a fit. I imagine Rick's momma would feel the same.
I love the tales of Rick growing up and the old family stories but I also enjoyed reading chapters about Rick's career as a reporter. Those could be pretty harsh. The parts about Haiti were just awful. I read about riots in Miami and asked my husband how he ever made it out of there alive, only half joking. As much as I love the humorous stories, Rick Bragg can make you feel like you're in the middle of any scene he wants, and sometimes that leads to some terrifying places.
I love reading Rick Bragg's writing. I hear it more than I read it, even as my eyes are moving slowly across the printed page, savoring the language. I don't know how it reads to anyone else, but his Alabama words read like home to me. He writes the way I talk and I love it. Apparently it's more about the Appalachians than it is about the state we're from because I'm a North Carolina girl but it all rings true. I listened to the audio version of his second memoir, The Prince of Frogtown, read by the author, and I loved it. I can't say which format I enjoy more.
Just go read this. It's a book with a lot of heart and sometimes those feel like they're hard to find. You'll be glad you took the time to read this one....more
Mary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics raMary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics ranging from thorough chewing (as in 700+ chews for One. Freaking. Bite.) to the miraculous properties of spit, from being eaten alive to the possibility (or not) of chewing your way out if you are, from "The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice" to *ahem* flatus, and ending up with bacterial transplants to treat intractable digestive ailments, this book asks everything you might possibly have ever wanted to know on the topic but were afraid to ask.
I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor, so all of the fart jokes, and spit jokes, and *ahem* "criminal accomplice" jokes had me at least giggling. In the two chapters devoted to flatulence, I was quite honestly laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Not that it was necessarily that funny but because "Oh my gosh, I can't believe she went there. And there. And there!" I'm almost ashamed of myself. Almost. Luckily my husband and I have the same sense of humor so he just kept playing whatever game on his phone as I laughed myself silly and waited for me to catch my breath and report so he could share in the joke too.
I've worked in healthcare for years, so I've developed a pretty strong stomach (though I'm not a nurse or CNA and haven't ever had to wade into the trenches, so to speak), so nothing in here bothered me. That will obviously not be the case for all of you. If you can stomach it (heehee!), I do recommend this. If it doesn't seem to be your kind of thing, it's probably not....more
In this graphic novel memoir, Alison Bechdel explores her relationship with her father, who later admitted to being homosexual; his suicide; her childIn this graphic novel memoir, Alison Bechdel explores her relationship with her father, who later admitted to being homosexual; his suicide; her childhood; and her early years after coming out as a lesbian.
I really kind of hate reviewing these kinds of books. They're so intensely personal. Who am I to judge the work of someone who has effectively bled his or her heart out on the page? Any negative comments feel like personal attacks when I write them. So here's the best I can do.
Let me first get what I didn't care for out of the way. The tone of the book is so very earnest and introspective and intellectual, ultimately drawing parallels between Joyce's Ulysses and her relationship with her father. Holy smokes. I only think that way in lit class. It's appropriate and relevant, I get that. It's just not my way of dealing with crap and so I don't really relate to it.
At the same time, I admire Bechdel for her bravery in putting her story out there. I'm sure it's a form of therapy for her, getting what she feels out on paper and working it out for herself. But it also help others who may be going through something similar.
I liked the artwork a lot. The stark black and whites matched the somber tone of the book perfectly. Some of them will be too graphic for some readers though.
I think that the summary alone will tell you whether this is a book for you or not. If you're interested, I do recommend it. ...more
Testimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actualTestimony covers a lot of ground, from the making of the movie, Schindler's List, to the idea of filming Holocaust survivor testimonies, to the actual project, and now sharing the testimonies and collecting new ones from ongoing genocides around the world.
The first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. I love the movie so seeing the behind-the-scenes photos and reading about the actor's thoughts was fascinating. I also liked reading about the real people the characters were based on and how filming such harrowing scenes affected all the cast and crew. When the narrative moved on to the idea of the Shoah foundation and collecting the survivor/witness stories, I was still on board. I liked reading about how the USC Shoah Foundation is sharing their expertise with other groups around the world with similar goals. I was reading in bed wondering how you get a job collecting stories. I even searched StoryCorps to see if they were hiring (They were but I'm not bilingual). The idea of such a huge, important undertaking just appealed to me--no, it called to me.
The second half got more technical, focusing on ensuring that the testimonies are secure and stay in a format that is always relevant to the modern age. That started to lose me. I'm proficient with the technology that's relevant to my life. I don't really stay on the cutting edge of anything. And I definitely don't understand anything about movie editing, etc. I do understand that all of this is important but I didn't really follow it. I was back on slightly firmer footing when the narrative switched to sharing the testimonies with the world. Even at that, I quickly got to the point where I just wanted to know what website I could go to for myself.
What kept me going were the transcribed excerpts sprinkled throughout the book. I'm drawn to stories of the Holocaust so reading about what these survivors endured was a highlight of the book. I was glad that the editors chose to include narratives from not only Jewish survivors, but also a homosexual survivor, rescuers/witnesses, a Jewish woman active in the resistance, a Sinti and Roma survivor, and survivors from other genocides (Rwanda and Cambodia). I personally know very little about other genocides or even really other perspectives on the Holocaust. I especially like that all these excerpts included current photos of the speakers and photos from their past.
Anyone interested in the Holocaust and/or Schindler's List will find this book fascinating. Pick it up for yourself and bear witness. We must never forget.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review....more
Malala Yousafzai was only fifteen when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for speaking out for education for everyone around the worlMalala Yousafzai was only fifteen when she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban for speaking out for education for everyone around the world, but especially for girls, and especially in Muslim countries. She miraculously survived and now has an even larger audience for her message.
I think I'd heard a little bit about Malala before this book came out but only a little. Then I just happened to catch her on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart one night and I was blown away. This young lady is intelligent, well-spoken and seems to be fearless in speaking her mind. I can't remember if Jon Stewart asked if he could adopt her or vote for her (probably both) but I echo that sentiment. I knew I had to have this book after seeing her speak.
The Malala in these pages is everything I expected her to be. She makes it clear that she's not perfect but her conviction rings throughout the book. She knows it is one of her basic human rights to get an education. She has a brain and she wants to use it. She is disturbed by the spread of a version of Islam that she doesn't recognize. She doesn't want the Taliban keeping the populace in ignorance and gaining even more control. She thinks we should all make an educated choice in our beliefs, whether those beliefs are personal, political, or religious.
She begins by painting a picture of Pakistan as she saw it before the Taliban started gaining control. It sounds like a beautiful place with a troubled past. Then she tells about all the ways, both little and big, that the Taliban started to affect daily life. This was the scariest part for me. It felt like it could happen anywhere. It seemed to begin with a radio show and a man who slowly gained power by starting with small statements that a lot of people agreed with and then slowly getting more and more fanatical until he had too much power for anyone to stop him. It was scary. Then Malala's valley is evacuated as the Pakistan army and the Taliban finally fight for control.
Throughout all of this, Malala's father was an outspoken opponent of all the radical changes. As the owner of a school, he was especially outspoken about every child's right to receive an education. Malala wanted to join him in that fight since it directly affected her. Her father started receiving death threats and losing friends as they were murdered for similar beliefs. He carried on though and Malala did too.
As I read, I wondered what I would do in their shoes. I'll be honest: I'm more of a keep-my-mouth-shut-and-my-head-down-and-hope-I-make-it-through kind of person. But that's how these crazy agendas gain so much ground; they count on the majority of people having exactly that reaction. When we wonder how one person can ever make a difference, we can always find an example of one person who already has. To that list, we can add Malala Yousafzai. She's one of our bright hopes for the future. Pick up this book and find out why....more
Mariatu Kamara was twelve years old when she was caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Most of her village was killed in a raid. Boy soldiers cuMariatu Kamara was twelve years old when she was caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Most of her village was killed in a raid. Boy soldiers cut off both her hands but let her go. She shares the story of how she learned to cope in the new world she found herself in.
Holy cow. I just can't imagine living through the things this young woman has experienced. And she was so young when everything happened! I just shudder to think of it.
But she's a strong girl. She knows from the beginning that she must learn to live on her own. From the time she turns down the first helpful stranger's offer to feed her a bite of mango, she struggles to live her new life on her own terms.
Her story is inspiring and heart-breaking and important. I know I as an American sometimes forget that most of the world doesn't have it as good as I do. I get caught up in the day-to-day of "I can't believe I have to deal with this at work," or "Traffic is a nightmare, I hate this commute," and forget that in some places in the world, children are killing and maiming each other in wars they don't understand. I for one need a reality check like this from time to time.
Anyone who reads this should also read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Mariatu avoids demonizing the boy soldiers but it's still a good idea to get their perspective as well. They were also victims in this terrible conflict.
This is by no means an easy read but I highly recommend it. ...more
As the "gay marriage debate" was heating up back in oh, 2005, Dan Savage and his boyfriend (they dislike the word partner) were in the middle of theirAs the "gay marriage debate" was heating up back in oh, 2005, Dan Savage and his boyfriend (they dislike the word partner) were in the middle of their own debate. Should they or shouldn't they? They'd been together ten years, they'd adopted a son together, neither had any intention of leaving the relationship, they fully believed that gays and lesbians should have the right to get married, they just weren't sure that marriage was for them. They talk it over, going back and forth, receiving lots of input in favor of marriage from Dan's mom, and against marriage from their 5-year-old son.
Honestly, I read this for a book challenge I'm trying to complete before the end of the year. I think I saw Dan Savage once on Real Time with Bill Maher but other than that he's not on my radar. I keep my political opinions to myself. Has anyone ever changed the mind of someone else in a political argument? I think not. So let's just say that I'm a happily-married heterosexual female who thinks that gay people should be allowed to get married. And that's all I'll say about that.
Savage's memoir is, for the most part, hilarious, brutally honest, and straight to the point. He points out the fallacies in the tired old arguments trotted out against gay marriage, takes some potshots at its most vocal opponents, and chronicles his own personal debate within the debate. I laughed most of the way through it.
It did irritate me that Savage has no compunction about casting people around him in broad stereotypes, but at least he admits that he's a close-minded liberal (or something like that anyway). Apparently the entire population of South Dakota is fat, wants to kick his butt simply because he's gay, and doesn't have the mental capacity to read the New York Times. I shudder to think what he says about us Southerners.
If you have the ideology to enjoy this, go ahead and read it. It was entertaining but also a little sad to see that we haven't made much progress in the eight years since this was published....more
Author Meera Lee Sethi travels to Sweden one summer to volunteer at a bird observatory. Her time in the mists and mountains of Sweden led her to writeAuthor Meera Lee Sethi travels to Sweden one summer to volunteer at a bird observatory. Her time in the mists and mountains of Sweden led her to write a collection of contemplative essays that are collected here.
What beautiful language! I was in deep like from the beginning and in love by the closing sentences of the first chapter.
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. What you are reading was supposed to be a book about birds but it is about this, too."
Aren't you just ready to sink into Sethi's writing and follow wherever she leads?
This slim book is imbued with layers of meaning. There are the surface stories about the birds and the landscape of Sweden and then there are the ways in which Sethi ties those things back into human experience. In the first chapter the migratory cuckoo becomes a metaphor for the wanderlust and yearning for other lives we all feel sometimes. In another the isolation we each occasionally feel is linked to the poor "vagrant" birds who get blown so far away from their native lands that they will never make it back. And so it goes throughout the whole book.
The fjälls of Sweden are so beautifully described that I'm ready to catch a plane and visit. Not being a fan of cold weather, Sweden isn't high on my list of places to visit, so this is really saying something.
I loved that there is an index at the back listing some of the birds that Sethi mentions in the book. When I'm reading I really don't stop to look up things I want to know. I always think I'll do it later but, of course, when later comes I've forgotten the names of what I want to research. I'll be hitting Google in a few minutes to look at these birds for myself.
And that brings me to the one thing that could really make this book better. I think it is just begging to be illustrated with watercolors or charcoal sketches that match the author's evocative yet spare style. I would buy that edition in a heartbeat. There's nothing wrong with it as is but I want the deluxe illustrated edition.
Bird-watchers should enjoy this but those with a scientific leaning or even a tendency toward the philosophical will enjoy it as well.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review....more
Mitch Moxley hits a personal low in his mid-twenties. His career is pretty much nonexistent and he's tired of the cold, gray Toronto winters. He startMitch Moxley hits a personal low in his mid-twenties. His career is pretty much nonexistent and he's tired of the cold, gray Toronto winters. He starts looking for jobs overseas and stumbles on a job working for a state newspaper in China, the China Daily. He applies and lands himself a one year contract.
He heads on over, knowing that he isn't really prepared for life in Communist China but not really understanding what that means. He has issues with censorship at the paper almost from the beginning and quickly gives up trying to change anything or doing any actual reporting. He makes some friends, offends some people, drinks a lot, and starts heading down that tired old expat path.
Luckily, he does change directions. He finally goes into life in China with a bit of a Yes Man attitude and finds himself in some unbelievable situations. He watches all the buildup for the Olympics. He starts doing some serious reporting. Through it all, he slowly slides closer to the Chinese side on the Foreigner/Chinese scale.
I like reading books about people who are brave enough to pack up and move away from everything they know, not just to another city, but to a whole different country. I can't even begin to imagine the culture shock, especially going from Canada to China. I have been disappointed a couple of times in other books when the author chooses to write about his or her experiences partying and drinking. That is not even remotely what I'm looking for when I pick up this kind of memoir.
Mitch started down that path and I got worried but then he turned himself around and started writing about life in China, not life in bars. He started getting out and experiencing things that I can't even conceive of from my armchair in the States. "Rent a White Guy." Seriously? They do that? Human trafficking. Chinese dating shows. The Beijing Olympics. Chinese music videos. I found it all fascinating, occasionally scary, and sometimes hilarious. I learned a lot about a country that is very much a big unknown to me. This was what I was hoping to find when I requested a copy of the book for review.
If, like me, you love to experience other cultures from the safety of your home, go ahead and give this a try. ...more
I'm not an NPR listener but something about this title caught my eye. I downloaded it at the end of the year when I was trying to squeeze in one lastI'm not an NPR listener but something about this title caught my eye. I downloaded it at the end of the year when I was trying to squeeze in one last nonfiction book to complete a reading challenge. Only about two hours long, I knew I could listen to it in just a couple of days on my commute.
The first part was unimpressive. At this point I've forgotten what most of those stories were. I do remember one about a young lady aging out of foster care that made me feel sad for her and others like her. Otherwise, its a pretty big blank.
And then I got to the second part. Here were the stories that wouldn't let me go.
A young man getting off the farm and into college with not much more than his determination and "Ten dollars and a dream."
A small town basketball team making it to the state playoffs, taking the hometown pride with them.
An elderly woman telling a story about her misfortune with a...unique... bra when she was younger had me laughing out loud!
Following a couple after that big earthquake in China flattened their apartment building with their young son and a set of their parents inside.
My favorite was probably the one about the US Marshals who kept their charges safe during school integrations in the Civil Rights era.
Most of these had me near tears for different reasons. And I'm seriously not a crier.
I don't know if the stories really were that uneven or if it just took me half the book to settle into what NPR is about. But once I got into it, I loved it. I felt like I experienced a huge range of human emotion in a short time span. I was saddened, I was angry, I was proud, you name it, I probably felt it.
I do highly recommend this. It would be a good read on a day when you're just feeling down and ready to give up on humanity. This is more what we're about than anything you'll see on the news....more
Professor Gary Fuller sets out to fill in the gaps in your geography knowledge.
I would guess that I know a little more geography than the average AmerProfessor Gary Fuller sets out to fill in the gaps in your geography knowledge.
I would guess that I know a little more geography than the average American but I'll be the first to admit that I'm still woefully lacking. I downloaded this book on a nook Free Friday (I believe), thinking that I might learn a thing or two.
I sure did! I wish more of it had stuck with me, but I now know that camels originated in North America, the first country you come to if you go directly south of Detroit is Canada (I'm ashamed that I didn't know that one) and if you go directly south of Chicago, you'll run into the Pacific ocean, not South America (again, I'm ashamed that I didn't know that). There were lots more facts packed into this little book, all presented in a fun, entertaining way. I actually had a hard time putting the book down!
The format of the book worked really well for me. The chapters were short and began with a series of questions. That's the one thing I didn't like. By the time I got to the answer, I'd forgotten what the question was and there often wasn't much of a contextual clue. I would have had an easier time with a physical copy, just marking the question page, but I wasn't willing to go clicking back through the pages on my nook.
Trivia lovers should really enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it!...more
In this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the femIn this true story, Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who don't quite fit in. They don't take any notice of the female penguins and instead form their own little family.
What an adorable little book! The illustrations by Henry Cole are charming. The story of Roy and Silo is sensitively written for the young ones. I was sad as they tried to nest and then uplifted when little Tango came along. All in the space of 30 or so pages. And I just love that the story is completely true.
Much as I wish this world were more accepting, this book is not going to be for all families. If your family can handle it, I do recommend the book. It's a good introduction for children to the concept of families that are a little different but that are still built on love....more
Editor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger GamesEditor Leah Wilson has collected a series of thirteen essays from various young adult authors, each addressing a different aspect of The Hunger Games trilogy.
How do I put this? I'm not really a huge analyzer of books. Sure, I write plenty of reviews, but in those I just write what I liked (or not) and why. That's really about as far as I go. Back in my English class days, I could produce solid essays but since graduating, I've gotten to be a lazy reader. I'll occasionally think about the more obvious themes in a book, but then I pick up the next one and move on. This collection impressed me because of the amount of thought that went into each and every essay. I had mused briefly about some of the topics, I think my sister and I even discussed a few of them, but these authors all went above and beyond in their analyses.
My favorite was "Team Katniss" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This was one essay that overlapped with a conversation my sister and I had. Why "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale"? Why not "Team Katniss"? Katniss is pretty freaking awesome on her own. Barnes presents her argument better than Rachel or I ever did. I just loved it.
I also really enjoyed "Community in the Face of Tyranny" by Bree Despain. I don't recall thinking much about the (lack of) community in the world of Panem. Despain argues that part of Katniss's magic comes from her ability to foster a sense of community wherever she goes. It's true, and I liked it.
At first, I thought entries by Cara Lockwood and Terri Clark were a little more light-hearted but even these surprised me with their depth. Lockwood writes about the "Not So Weird Science" of Panem and how these far-fetched "muttations" could become realities sooner than we think. She also addressed the need for science to look at the consequences of genetic engineering and not just "Can we do it?" Clark writes about a "Crime of Fashion" and the role that Katniss's looks, and Cinna's hand in them, played in the series. How far would Katniss have gotten without Cinna? Sure, we the readers love her, but she would probably have been largely overlooked if she'd first appeared in a humdrum coal mining outfit.
I feel the need to mention "The Politics of Mockingjay" by Sarah Darer Littman. It draws blatant parallels between the politics of the War on Terror and the politics of Panem. I enjoyed reading it, but I know it will completely turn off some readers with different political beliefs. I was surprised to read this in a book aimed at young adults, but we all need to be aware of what's going on in the world around us.
There's a sequence of essays that leads from reality vs unreality to reality tv to the power of the media and those all kind of blended together for me. I can't say that any were badly written, but I had, surprisingly enough, considered most of this while I was reading the trilogy. They started to overlap and get repetitive.
Fans who just can't get enough of The Hunger Games trilogy should enjoy reading this. It's thought-provoking and informative, and will probably leave you ready to re-read the books. ...more
In this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK asIn this memoir, Lithgow writes of how his early years shaped him as an actor, from his childhood, to his time at Harvard, to his studies in the UK as a Fulbright scholar, and on to his breakthrough on Broadway and film.
I truly enjoyed listening to Lithgow narrate his own personal history. I don't know how much of his work I've actually seen, but I do like his voice. He took my thoughts and feelings exactly where he wanted them to go. I was quiet and pensive as he spoke about the power of story in his father's last days, I was howling with laughter alone in my car as he wrote about his father telling off a decidedly unpassionate Romeo, and I was interested enough not to notice as I listened and worked my way through yet another week of the Couch to 5K training program.
You could probably accuse Lithgow of name-dropping, but when he's speaking of his work, it's impossible not to name-drop. I was very interested to learn that he was at Harvard with Tommy Lee Jones and that he saw some of Meryl Streep's earliest Broadway auditions.
He doesn't hold much, if anything, back. His first marriage was rocky and he acknowledges his role in that. He writes honestly about his great love and respect for his father, how confused he felt to sort of surpass his work, and how determined he became to disassociate himself from his father's influence.
If you like memoirs at all, I do recommend this as audio. It's wonderfully narrated by a fascinating man.