Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Who would have guessed there would be two spotlights, two days in a row? Me, if I would have given a second thought to it! While yesterday was Louisa May Alcott's 184th birthday, today is another special day, as it the birthday of ANOTHER childhood favorite: Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Anne with an 'e' is one of my all-time favorite character and I have spoken of my love for the entire Anne of Green Gables series in various posts, especially the Top ten Tuesdays where she is applicable. I won't rehash those statements, but I do adore Anne and wanted to live on Prince Edward Island with my BFF Diana Barry.
L.M. Montgomery was born on November 30th, 1874. In her lifetime, until her death on April 24th, 1942, Montgomery published 20 novels, as well as hundreds of short stories, poems, and essays. If you are only familiar with Anne and her series, I certainly recommend some of her other novels as well. Most of her writings were set in PEI and put the province on the map as a popular tourist destination. I am excited to visit with my daughter one day when she is old enough to read these books - I just hope she loves them as much as I do.
Her mother passed away when Montomery was just shy of two years old, and so her father sent her to live with her grandparents. Montgomery had commented on how lonely she was growing up, and it was in this time that she developed a creativity that would benefit her later as a writer. Later, she attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, where she earned her teaching license. She then went on to study literature at Dalhousie University.
Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908 and was instantly a hit, A couple years later she married Ewen Macdonald. They had three sons, though their second was stillborn. Throughout her adult life, Montgomery struggled with depression, and considered writing to be her source of comfort in her "mostly unhappy" life.
An interesting fact I recently learned is that Montgomery had completed a ninth Anne book in the year leading up to her death. This was a collection of short stories that had been published previously, but that Montgomery had edited and revised to include Anne and her family. There were also poems, which were "written" by Anne and Walter (even as I write his name as an adult, my heart jumps in my throat and I tear-up thinking of him, as he was killed in World War I. These characters became so real to me). However, the book was not published at the time and one possibility is because of the strong anti-war message in one of Anne's passages. In October of 2009, the volume was finally published in its entirety; it had previously been published under the name 'The Road to Yesterday', with many pieces of the original work removed. You can find it today under its original title, "The Blythes are Quoted". I will definitely look for this one ASAP.
There are several biographies to choose from if you are so inclined to learn more about the life of L.M. Montgomery. I can not recommend the Anne series enough; Green Gables was easily the most important book in my life prior to discovering To Kill a Mockingbird in 6th grade.
Have you read the entire series, or only Green Gables? What about the Emily books, or Pat? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
(photo and some information from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Maud_Montgomery)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
I am toying with new ideas for the blog and figured what better day to try out this feature than on this, the 184th birthday of Louisa May Alcott. Alcott wrote numerous books, the most well-known being Little Women, followed by Little Men and Jo's Boys. These were among my most favorite childhood books. I did read some of her other works, but nothing came close to Little Women for me. I imagined myself as Jo, going off to the big city (though I already lived in a suburb of one, so the 'big city' really wasn't terribly far away) and selling my stories, working for a newspaper, etc. I have several editions of this book, ranging from abridged children's versions to the complete work (did you know Little Women as we know it today was originally published in two parts?). I also have a variety of movie tie-ins, and the movie itself. Christian Bale as Laurie was perfect, though I have never forgiven Samantha Mathis (as Amy) for marrying him.
The real Jo, Louisa May Alcott, was born on this day in 1832. At that time her family had been living in Germantown, PA. Alcott had three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth, and May. They spent much of their childhood in Boston and Concord. Their parents, Bronson Alcott (a philosopher and teacher) and Abigail May, were friends with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Like Jo March, Louisa was both a tomboy and a writer. As in Little Women, Jo and her sisters would act out plays for their friends and family. As she grew up though, money was an issue for the family and Louisa took whatever jobs she could find to help provide support
At age 22, Alcott's first book was published, entitled Flower Fables. Prior to that her short stories and poetry had been published in magazines. By age 35, she was hard at work on Little Women, based on the childhood of Alcott and her sisters.
Alcott passed away on March 6th, 1888 at age 55. In her lifetime she had published more than 30 books. She is buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. You can also visit Orchard House, where much of the furnishings on display were owned by the Alcotts and the house has been preserved much like when they lived there. This is where Alcott wrote Little Women.
Which books, if any, by Louisa May Alcott have you read? Do you have a favorite? Let me know!
(Photo and author information from http://www.louisamayalcott.org/index.html)
Monday, November 28, 2016
November 29: Holiday Gift Guide freebie (ten books to buy the YA lover in your life, 10 books to buy for your dad, etc.)
Thank you as always to The Broke and the Bookish (link above) for providing hours of entertainment pouring over lists of fellow bookdragons.
My list is comprised of books you should consider buying for the person in your life who just can't let go of Titanic and is forever heartbroken that Rose literally let go of Jack (even though she had to in order to survive). As a treat, there is also one listed that you should definitely AVOID, because it was not good at all.
If you are in any doubt, I am one of the aforementioned people who remains enthralled by Titanic (not just the movie). Although, the 15 year old in me still bawls for the last 45 minutes of the film. I can't even handle it. I'm 33 now #SorryImNotSorry
Onto the list, as always, in no particular order.
and I do not recommend the latter at all. You can check out my review on Goodreads for a more thorough explanation as to why this one is not worth the time.
6. On one hand it seems in poor taste to recreate a dinner party from Titanic - particularly the last dinner served, but on the other hand it is always interesting to see meals and desserts and sides and such that were popular in a specific period. Plus, I pretty much love to eat, and the focus is not specifically on the last meal served, but the overall menu and recipes. If I had any kind of talent related to cooking, I would actually give some of these a try.
There are a few more books I would like to make note of, though I have not yet read them myself. They are books that have been recommended to me by those I trust based on my interest in the subject. I can not definitely say that they are all winners, but I have included a few of them here.
It is kind of embarrassing that I have not read this one yet. After all, he is the one who rediscovered the ship. It is a priority though!
I have a copy of this but can't for the life of me find it. I am beginning to think it got mixed in with some books that I sold to Half-Price Books by mistake, in which case I am going to be devastated.
I know nothing of this one except a friend recommended it. For what it's worth, the rating on Goodreads is 4.01 currently.
This one is a bit hard to find, as it was originally published by Beesley just two months after the sinking. These firsthand accounts are so worth it if you can find them though.
I really want to read this one because there are not many biographies dedicated to Thomas Andrews out there. On the other hand, this author has another book in which he claims in his previous life is WAS Thomas Andrews. I am not completely dismissing it as hokum, as I have not read that one, but it is highly suspect to say the least. If you get to this one before I do, let me know what you think!
I am interested to see if there really is enough material to fill a book solely about Wallace Hartley. I suspect not, which is why the previous book on my 'Read' list worked so well - it was about all the members of the band and not just one. Still, being the bandleader, Hartley is the one who might know the most about, even if that still amounts to very little actual fact.
Perhaps it is unfair that we judge Ismay so harshly. Or perhaps we are right on target. Like so many other aspects of the sinking, we will never know if he gave the orders to Captain Smith to speed up, or if he was strictly a passenger along for the maiden voyage. I am inclined to believe he encouraged it, given how in-the-know it appears he was about everything else going on. Another mystery.
Gimme gimme gimme. If the Californian's captain really did behave in the way suggested, and ignored the distress calls, he is every bit as guilty as others who made terrible decisions that night.
I'm not sure I will actually be able to sit through this one. I can't think of too many more heartbreaking ways to spend your honeymoon than watching the ship of dreams sink with your new husband on board. I am hopeful that at least some of these stories will have happy endings though.
There are many more books to list, but I figure it's time to put the kibosh on it when the books-I-haven't-read list is longer (9) than the books-I-recommend (7). If you are interested, I have a whole slew of them on Goodreads, (plus a couple I rated 3 Stars that I did not consider list-worthy), on my unsurprisingly named 'Titanic' shelf.
Let me know what you think and leave a link to your own TTT so I can take a look. If you're so inclined, hit that 'Follow' button at the top right and I'll be sure to do the same for you if I have not already!
Yep, I can't ever just read one at a time. Not counting the three books I am currently reading with students at school, I have 28 going right now. Some are of course much farther along right now than others, but yes, 28.
Are you a reader who can juggle multiple books at a time, or has to finish one before starting the next?
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Apologies! For some reason this post has changed itself permanently to the smallest type-setting and no matter how many times I try to edit/resave, etc, it will not change back to normal. Even so, it is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it!
Rating: 4 Stars
Firstly, I definitely have to get a copy of this for myself. I had my Bible (shout out to King James!) with me for much as I was reading, but then I would get so caught up in Riess' own summaries that I would be laughing all the way through the Old Testament (God will forgive me, right?) But I need my own copy of this one because I found myself wanting to highlight and add my own little notes as I was going. Since this belongs to my wonderful pastors, I figured marking up their copy was probably not a good idea. On the other hand, they are friends with the author so they could probably get a new one pretty easily...
Just kidding, I'll get my own.
In all seriousness, I actually think this is a pretty engaging and humorous way to bring the Bible to those who might shy away from attempting to read it because let's face it, those begats will get ya. I know I am definitely more motivated to start reading the Bible in a more thorough way again, not just jumping around in the New Testament. Maybe not cover to cover, because I don't necessarily feel like the Old Testament especially needs to be read that way - it is not even told in chronological order itself.
Secondly, this book has a lot to offer besides cheeky and sarcastic Tweets of Bible chapters. There are numerous tidbits that really add to the experience as a whole. Each book of the Bible is summarized at the start of its own section, before each summary then of each chapter within that book. There are also a lot of additional sidebars related to specific portions of the text that give further insight/information on events or groups. I found those especially helpful when some Tweets left me thinking, 'wtf?' You'll also find some illustrations throughout, as well as as a section at the end dedicated to clarifying who is who in the Tweets if you were unfamiliar with the abbreviations used. Big surprise, one of my favorites parts was the section entitled "Notes: Or, Where to Find What All the Smart People Said". Here the author includes the numerous other authors she mentioned throughout the book when giving her own commentary. As you can imagine, I have added several more books to me TBR as a result. Thanks, Jana! (This is not sarcastic. I genuinely mean it.)
(Okay, it is a little sarcastic only because my TBR list is nearing 4,000. But I will read all those books, Father Time be damned. Mostly not sarcastic though, because I do love to read.)
Thirdly, the remainder of this review will be some of my most favorite Tweets (or quotes). If you want to see all the ones I made notes of, you can check those out on Goodreads. I am really going to try to include only the best of the best of the best, but early in Genesis I was already wanting to quote almost all of them so...
If these don't convince you to pick up The Twible, nothing will. Even if you are leery of the actual Bible, for whatever reason, I really do think you will enjoy this one. Just a note, I'll list the page number if it is from a sidebar that I am quoting. If it is the Tweet, I will list the Book and Chapter, no page number.
So, here you go. You're welcome.
Genesis 14: Phar pursues Israel across the Red Sea while monologuing. Then G drowns Egyptians, because not enough people have died yet in Exodus.
Page 55: Today, the word "shibboleth" can refer to anything that betrays a person as an outsider to those in the "in" crowd - like, for example, using the word "shibboleth" in conversation when most normal people don't know or care what it means.
I Samuel 4: Israel routed by Philistines! Ark captured! (That's like when someone steals your college mascot, except that folks also tend to die.)
1 Chronicles 11: In this utopian history, Jerusalem falls without a struggle, all 12 Tribes instantly unite behind King David, and unicorns are real.
Page 89: In sum, the moral of Chronicles is that the sun shines out of David's butt. Not that we've ever seen his butt, because he never, ever danced naked before God and everybody.
Page 128: It's worth noting that even though Jesus was not actually abandoned by God, he felt that way at the time, and the words he chose to express that isolation were ones that had been consecrated by centuries of prayer.
(Though this quote is not particularly funny at all, I wanted to include it here when in Psalms, because the author makes a fantastic point in regards to this book and people asking why bad things happened to good people and where is God in those times?)
Isaiah 29: G: because you pay me lip-service while your hearts are far from me, I'll give your Wii to the Syrians and put you in a long time out.
Malachi 4: The OT ends, ushering in 400 years of silence because G is busy having brain surgery to change his violent personality for the NT
Mark 3: A house divided against itself cannot stand. Say, for example, one person roots for Michigan and another for Ohio State. Hypothetically.
(This one is really tough for me because this afternoon Michigan lost to that school down south in double overtime. Ugh.)
Acts 10: During noon prayer Pete has a trippy vision of unclean animals now becoming kosher. That's good news for Christians; bacon is tasty.
The last bit I will touch on is a sidebar on 266-267. It's not actually just a sidebar since it takes up the entirety of two whole pages, but it is important. There is a great explanation here of Paul and "Paul", as the authors refer to them as. She breaks down all the letters that have been attributed to Paul, with some convincing, albeit brief, arguments (and then gives a further reading in the Notes section later). Here the letters of Paul are divided into four categories: those we know for sure were written by Paul, ones possibly written by him, probably not written by him, and definitely not written by him. Of all the books listed in the Notes section, this is one of the ones I am most interested in getting my hands on first.
The whole book is full of gems like the ones I mentioned above, and I read the entire book within a 24 hour period. There's even a quote from Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Athiest) on the back cover: "I wouldn't object if Twibles were in every hotel room."
Can you really argue with that? Highly recommended.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thanks to the amazing and ever-helpful Carrie, who you can (and should) find at Reading is my Superpower, I have found a new way to show off my love for and promote non-fiction. Every Friday is First Line Friday on her website and I am excited to be able to join in the fun!
The book nearest me (and one I am so enthralled with right now!) is
I am really digging this book and there is so much to learn and to consider in the information the author presents. Plus, my pastor loaned it to me the Wednesday following the election when I was in a total haze over the results, but that is another story. Pretty much, my pastors are awesome.
I took my First Line this week from the beginning of "Chapter 9: The Bridegroom of Blood - Zipporah as the Goddess-Rescuer of Moses":
"For mystery, mayhem, and sheer baffling weirdness, nothing else in the Bible quite compares with the story of Zipporah and the 'Bridegroom of Blood' in Exodus 4:24-26."
Ain't that the truth!
What is your First Line this week? Leave a comment and let me know where to find yours!
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
November 22: Thanksgiving freebie -- tell us what you are thankful for! Books you are thankful for!
Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday, and I definitely have a lot to be thankful for! While my list will mainly be comprised of books, because I do try to stick to that topic, the things I am most thankful for are not things at all. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
1. My daughter, Eleanor - I definitely do not share photos of my child on my blog because let's be real: there are a lot of weirdos and creeps on the Internet. But, I do talk about her and at great length sometimes, as she relates to certain books and people that I read about. If you did not know before, Eleanor is named after one of my heroines, Eleanor of Aquitaine. When I was pregnant, I had just recently moved to a city where I knew almost no one, so much of my time was spent at the public library. Every Saturday, week after week, I would check out up to the max of 40 books and it was in this time that I discovered the indomitable spirit of this woman who lived so long ago and had all but become a legend due to the fantastical stories that grew up around her in the centuries since her death. But the truths we do know were enough for me and so I named my daughter for her. I am so grateful that God trusted me to be Eleanor's momma and I hope that as she grows, she too will display the courage, tenacity, and creativity of her namesake.
2. My family - This is kind of a gimme, right? But seriously, my family is wonderful - sometimes kind of crazy, but no matter what, they are there for me. I was lucky to be one of those kids growing up that we all lived relatively close to one another (my mom and I, aunts, uncles, and grandparents), so we saw each other constantly. I sometimes hear a kind of formality that some people have with their families and honestly it makes me kind of sad for them - having to knock on the door to your grandparents' home and waiting to be let in? Not us! You walked right in, gave hugs, and headed for the kitchen because there was always some treat that Grandma had waiting for just such occasions. The distance between us is hard now, as Eleanor and I are about six hours away now, so the trips home are even more special and meaningful now. My mom gets an extra special shout out because of her total and unwavering committment to being the best grandma ever (tied with my own gradma of course!) After I had Eleanor, she stayed for two weeks to help me get settled. Following that, she then drove a total of 12 hours each weekend (Friday after work to come and Sunday afternoon to go back home) to keep taking care of us. Now the visits are about once a month, and I am eternally grateful for a momma who takes such good care of me and my sweet girl.
3. My church - I can't even begin to describe the feeling one has when you find a place that you truly belong. Prior to Eleanor's birth, I had not attended church regularly since high school. Once she was born however, I was determined to have her baptized at the church where my grandparents had been married and my mom baptized as well - in the small town where my grandparents once again reside now (where they were born, grew up, met and got married). It's a small town, so small in fact, that nearly everyone is somehow related or connected to everyone else and the pastor at the time is my 3rd, (possibly 4th?) cousin. In the days after Eleanor's baptism, Pastor Kyle had emailed me a list of Covenant churches in our area. I visited the first one on the list and never went anywhere else. My church family is amazing and wonderful and I have never once felt out of place. I am so beyond happy to have a place where Eleanor and I belong, even when we are so far from our family.
Now...books! You may surprised to find that, while nearly anything I read now is non-fiction, once upon a time I read fiction. A lot of fiction. Mostly in elementary, middle, and high school. And almost always when I was supposed to be doing math instead.
4. The Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins/High/University, Goosebumps, Fear Street - These books made me the reader that I am today. I devoured any and every book in these multiple series that I could get my hands on. The Baby-Sitters Club especially, the super editions, mysteries, special editions, you name it. Same with Fear Street - I could not get enough, especially of the specials, like Fear Street Cheerleaders, Fear Street Seniors, etc. I read fewer of the general Fear Street ones though, as I liked the recurring characters of the different sets - even as R.L. Stine kept killing them off. The Fear Street Saga (The Betrayal, The Secret, The Burning) are among my very favorites of all time. I read those over and over, to the point they are falling apart.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - It almost seems sacrilegious to have this book in second place compared to the above, as they are not 'great literature'. But it is because I as such a devout reader of any and everything that I could read this book when I did - the summer going into sixth grade. I kid you not, I was spending an afternoon (or possible the weekend, or a whole week) at my grandparent's house and my youngest uncle still lived with them but was in college. Much of his stuff was in the basement in an office area and I found this old, yellow covered book that piqued my interested. I started reading and an hour or so had gone by, my grandma called down the stairs to see what I was up to. I said I was reading a book about a bird and she thought nothing of it until I showed her the book and she nearly had a heart attack. Grandma was so convinced my mom was going to be upset for letting me read TKAM at such a young age, given the themes, but I kept reading and everyone survived.
6. Mystery of the Pirate's Ghost - To say I loved this book in elementary school would be an understatement. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It was about a family who inherit an old house and the kids find a secret passage and skeleton and there's talk of ghosts and treasure galore. I literally had the book checked out for nearly all of my 5th grade year and read and re-read it constantly. I so desperately hoped the school librarian would see how much I loved it and let me keep it at the end of the year, but no such luck. I found a used edition (it was written in the 60s) on Amazon and few years ago and it is still as wonderful as I remember.
7. Anne of Green Gables (and all sequels) - Oh how I wanted to be Anne Shirley! This was, of course, back before my irrational fear and subsequent teasing of gingers (mostly I jest, I am good friends with a few redheads and for whatever reason, the hair jokes just come easily. In all seriousness, yes I do believe gingers have souls.). I loved how courageous Anne was and how she never gave up. I wanted to be her and live on Prince Edward Island and have grand adventures with my BFF Diana Barry. My elementary school best friend and I played Anne of Green Gables every day at recess. I would be Anne, she would be Diana and we would re-enact scenes from the book. We never could convince any of the boys to be Gilbert though.
8. Matilda - I don't know that I really have to explain this one. Who would not love a story about a girl who loves books and has magical powers?
9. Little Women - Much like Anne and Matilda, I wanted to BE JO MARCH. I love to read and write and wanted to go off and get a job with a newspaper and write, write, write. Being a journalist was a goal I had for a long time. As a freshman in college, I wanted to become a sports writer for the Denver Post and write my novels and bask in all the wonderfulness of being a writer. I, though, would have married Laurie. It probably helped that in the movie, he was played by Christian Bale.
These remaining titles are ones that I love so much, and were formative books in my childhood and teen years that kept me hooked on reading and inspired something in me to keep reading and learning even when I was done with college (both times!), and to also try and instill that same love of reading in my own child:
10. Number the Stars (so gut-wrenchingly beautiful)
11. Tuck Everlasting (can't wait to start this one!)
12. A Little Princess (and this one!)
13. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (and this one!)
14. The Shining (obviously she won't be reading this one for a while)
15. Jurassic Park (or this one)
16. The Outsides (not this one either)
17. And Then There Were None (or this one)
18. The Great Gatsby (or this one)
Happy Thanksgiving! Who and/or what are you thankful for this year? Leave a link to your Top Ten so I can take a look.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Rating: 3 Stars...and that is generous. More likely a 2.5
Oh Sweet Baby Jesus.
I first remember hearing about the so-called Bling Ring when Orlando Bloom's house had been robbed and didn't think much of it again until 'Pretty Wild' started airing. I caught bits and pieces of the show and eventually started watching it because it was simply insane and I could at least rest assured that my life in grad school was no where near as terrible as these crazy girls and their crazy mom. I specifically remember the episode where Alexis Neiers was arrested and how she sobbed and cried and swore up and down that she was not involved, she had nothing to do with it, yadda yadda yadda.
Then here in the book we find out she was a consultant on the movie. I mean, it was pretty obvious from her overly dramatic reaction that she was completely involved.
I must admit that I kept watching the show, oh you sly Ryan Seacrest, you should do know how to hook 'em! But since it was only something like 10 episodes or whatever, my brain didn't rot too much, plus I had the whole grad school thing to help keep away the rot as well. The timing of the show airing was certainly interesting, given that the first episode is literally the one where Alexis is arrested - I missed out on the first couple original air dates and subsequently watched them out of order, so my memory may be a bit hazy on the timeline. Not to mention this all happened six years ago, and I read the book in July. But whatever.
Anyway, the book gave some interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Alexis' adopted sister-whatever was also a suspect in the burglaries. On the show it seemed pretty clear that Alexis was the only suspect. Tess was there when she was released from jail, and the paparazzi were snapping zillions of photos, but the book says Tess was never charged - implying that she was at least a suspect. The show definitely did not focus on that, and I am curious as to why they would do so. Surely TWO socialite-wannabes being charged with burglary is even more entertaining than one, no? In the book Nick (the ringleader) even says around 42% that he and Tess robbed Rachel Bilson's house together, yet she was never charged? It does not make sense to me, unless it was explained somewhere else in the book and I have forgotten. It said something earlier on that Alexis didn't rat her out, but why wouldn't Nick? He ratted our everyone else - including himself.
It is sometimes really easy I think for people to forget that these celebrities are human. They might be super shallow and self-absorbed humans (I'm looking at you, Paris), but they are still human. I really felt bad for Rachel Bilson in particular - not only because Summer Roberts remains one of my all-time favorite characters - but because of how deeply this impacted her and how she felt so violated in her own home and could not stay there. I think sometimes it is really easy for 'regular people' to look at celebs as animals in a zoo here for our entertainment and forget that they really are still people who deserve to feel safe in their own homes. But these punk kids thought it was perfectly reasonable and even acceptable for them to waltz in, take what they wanted - sometimes making numerous trips. It is so incredibly infuriating to see these brats doing stuff like this. This may also have to do with the fact that stealing is one of the things that truly pisses me off the most (especially being a teacher and all). You didn't earn it, you didn't pay for it, it does not belong to you.
There are other people to feel sorry for in this whole debacle though, not just the celebs who could obviously recover financially even if emotionally it took a bit longer. I could not really keep all the thieving kids straight, so I don't really remember most of their names, or their parents' names either. But I most definitely felt bad for the mother of the older guy who was fencing the stolen goods. It seemed from the book that her life had never been easy and suddenly all of this was happening and it was terribly unfair of these bozos to put their parents into such difficult positions.
My biggest issue with the book ended up being the author herself. It was an easy read and one I finished pretty quickly, but I was not there for any pseudo-intellectual dissection of why these kids felt entitled to help themselves to whatever they found lying around in the homes of these celebrities. I could certainly have done without her theories or sociological interpretations of the whys or the impact of reality television on people. My purpose for reading was to hear about the case and the crimes and I didn't have much interest in a magazine writer trying to make the book more academic-sounding. I skimmed over the parts where the author discussed pornography and modeling, and the impact these things have on society - especially for young boys and girls. Eventually the author did some kind of dissection on Bonnie and Clyde and compared them to Rachel and Nick, the leaders of these bored, dumb kids. At that point I was pretty much done.
Overall this one was kind of like watching a car wreck. You want to look away but for some reason you just can't. You have to know what happened. You can find out, if you tip-toe around all the pop-psychology bs, and if you can do so then by all means, have at it.
The Step: One Woman's Journey to Finding Her Own Happiness and Success During the Apollo Space Program
Rating: 3 Stars
I won a copy of this book from the Goodreads First-Reads program.
This was a quick read and one I thought I would enjoy because I am obsessed with the Apollo program and I long for the days when people were excited about NASA and space missions, and the like. While in most other aspects of life I am glad I did not grow up in the 60s, what I would not give to have been alive for the launch of Apollo 11 and to have seen the grainy footage of Armstrong's first steps on the lunar surface. It seems that in this century, we take space travel for granted, like it something mundane and easy - even with the disintegration and total loss of life from the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003.
Unfortunately this was not nearly what I had hoped for, and I almost feel bad in saying so, because this was one woman's personal experience, but there were somethings that she discussed that really bothered me. As a single mom myself, I was interested in that aspect of her life in terms of how she handled her career and parenting responsibilities in a time when divorce was nearly unheard of - but certainly on the rise. I was interested in the workings and operations in regards to her position first as a secretary with IBM and then as a PR writer with the program. I was less concerned with the mini skirts and make-up and affairs.
I first came to know about the Apollo missions mainly from one of my all-time favorite movies, Apollo 13. For reasons I can not fathom, this is not something that was covered in-depth in school. For the life of me I can not figure out why not. Space is cool, planets are cool, walking on the moon is cool - what's not to love. Even my three year old digs moon-gazing, something that was especially cool with the Super Moon a few days ago. But I digress. For whatever reason, while we were of course taught about Apollo 11, the rest of the program itself was not a priority. Such a bummer.
But back to the book...
In the end, I found I could relate to the author in some ways - working hard and putting in the hours to support our families, but in other ways her story was very alien to me because of our generational differences and societal expectations of the times. I know it was impossible to even think of leaving the house without hair and make-up done, wearing anything but skirts and blouses, so once again I am thankful I did not live in the 60s or earlier. I myself am more partial to sleep than make-up, and I haven't worn it in ages. Sorry I'm not sorry.
There is a particular scene in the book I struggle with, and it involves when the author was needing to get some photos of the astronauts in an area of one of the buildings where it was against the rules to wear skirts. This was a rule in the name of safety, as they thought that the men working on the catwalks might either get distracted by a woman in a mini-skirt and fall, or get distracted and drop the tools they were using which might in turn injure or kill someone working below them. I thought it was highly stupid of her to flaunt the rule in the name of getting some photographs, but also a highly stupid rule to begin with. If these dudes can't control themselves, why is it HER problem? Perhaps they shouldn't be cat-calling a-holes and concentrate on working on the flight craft instead of ogling any woman in the vicinity. Yet one more reason I am thankful to be alive now - not that guys do not do this garbage anymore, but it is certainly less acceptable by society's standards.
This book was not terrible by any means, and was one woman's view as she saw it and lived her life, working for IBM during one of the most exciting times in our nation's history. I simply was looking forward to more about the program itself. (Also, conversations abound in this text. If you have read any previous reviews, you know my stance on conversations and that I feel unless the conversation was recorded at the time, there is no possible way everything said can be remembered exactly. That was something that definitely bugged me about this one.) The book is both her personal and professional journey and I'd definitely like to know more about women connected to the space program at this time. I have discovered a few books relating to this topic that I am looking forward to reading those as well.
Rating: 4 Stars
I picked up this little gem at one of our local museums, which currently is hosting an amazing exhibit on Prohibition. The museum is so incredible and never ceases to have me in awe over the various exhibits they bring in, but this Prohibition one is second only to the one a few years ago when they has Sue the T-Rex on display. I strongly urge you to check if any of your own local museums might be hosting this one in the future, it is so worth the time. It is called 'American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition'. You can see some details here about it at The Durham Museum's website if you are interested. And if you are here in Nebraska, then there really is no excuse, you must visit.
So, onto the book.
I admit I am kind of a dodo about Prohibition. I was (and kind of still am) always more interested in the gangster side of this era, (The Godfather I & II and The Untouchables are some of my favorite movies), so the laws and regulations and such is something I never paid a whole lot of attention to. So, thank goodness for books like these (and the awesome aforementioned exhibit) to supplement my education where it is lacking.
This is considered a YA/teen book, but I feel it still gave a very clear picture of the times, the laws, and the reasons for how and why Prohibition became such a force - that was totally impossible to actually regulate. One thing I am grateful for is that I finally know how the word teetotaler came about. I have a kind of obsession with unusual words, and I discovered that this one became a word because:
"As the temperance movement began to grow, societies in the 1830s began to discuss a more significant and difficult pledge: an agreement not to drink at all, total abstinence not just from hard liquors, but also from beer, cider, and wine. Those who agreed to love completely "dry" were noted with a "T" by their names on the society's membership rolls, displaying their "total" commitment. In time, those people were known as "teetotalers." " (page 19).
As an aside, I believe I have heard the word mispronounced more than a few times, thus leading to some confusion. When heard (albeit rarely - because seriously, when was the last time you heard this word?), it has been 'teetoler', so perhaps we could all do with a little brush-up on this one.
My eyes were really opened by this book, as I never before realized just how early the temperance movement started. Even the quote above is a good indicator, because even as far back as the 1830s, this movement was really gaining steam. I found the passages about the education of children in the dangers of alcohol to be highly interesting as well; it was something taught quite often in school and a subject that had its own textbooks dedicated to informing all of the dangers of alcohol. Of course there was some truth in the books, such as that it could damage your brain (though it conveniently left out how much consumption it would take to do so - or perhaps this was not something medically known at the time, which is more likely), it also warned children that alcohol would turn muscle into fat.
The book also touched on several figures at the time, all serving different capacities in regards to prohibition - from supporters, to enforcers of the law, to bootleggers. One such character whom I have great admiration for is Carry/Carrie Nation (her name is spelled differently depending on the book you are reading). It is not her views exactly that I align with - though I myself no longer drink, I am certainly in no place to tell others not to - but her courage and conviction in her purpose. Nation was willing to travel far and wide for her cause, willing to go to jail (22 times, to be exact), be mocked by the opposing side, and even attacked physically by those who disagreed with her. Now, to be fair, she was physically attacked due to her own method of campaigning for Prohibition - by using hatchets and bricks and whatever she could get her hands on in order to destroy bars and saloons. The owners of such establishments naturally did not take to kindly to that. Even so, Nation knew her purpose and believed in her God-given mission. It is unfortunate that she did not live to see Prohibition come into effect, having passed away in 1911.
Another aside: there is a portion of the exhibit dedicated to Carry Nation, and includes her portrait as well as one of her hatchets that she used to smash up the saloons she visited. It was very cool.
Carry and I, and her hatchet, at the Durham exhibit.
"Approvals rolled through one state after another. In January 1919, not quite thirteen months after Congress acted, Nebraska became the 36th state to vote for ratification, officially adding the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution" (page 54). All I can say to that is, good going Nebraska.
I do say it somewhat cheekily, but in reality there was really no way that Prohibition was ever going to be successful. So much time and energy and manpower was spent trying to stop people from drinking, so many lives even lost in this battle (most notably in the gang wars. Some might say who cares if the gangsters were killing one another and that part may be true, but one also has to considered how many innocent bystanders were also killed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time).
One issue I have with reading YA is, of course, that topics are somewhat less in-depth. This is to be expected, but my interest was piqued so many times in this short volume, only to have only a few details given and then the author moved on. It is an unfortunate side effect, and as you are probably aware, I do not have an issue with adding MORE books to my TBR list. It is just that sometimes I am impatient and want the information RIGHT NOW. This happened exactly in the section regarding Al Capone and the St Valentine's Day Massacre. The author stated at one point that "...new research indicates he (Capone) may not have been involved at all" (page 105). Again, I know it is a YA book, but this tantalizing bit surely deserved more than that vague statement, no? Even giving a basic run-down of this new research would have been appreciated, because even the notes section is silent about this little nugget of information. I would love to know what new evidence has been uncovered to indicate that Capone was not involved in the hit on Moran's men.
There were a lot of interesting facts to wrap up the text in the final chapter. I learned quite a bit more than I thought I would from this one - though again, keep in my mind that my knowledge is typically from the bootlegger point of view. I had never given much thought to Prohibition itself, so I did not realize it actually last quite a long time, 14 years to be exact. I also did not give much thought to the drinking age, which up until the 1980s was 18. I guess I just kind of assumed it had always been 21, since alcohol became legal again.
By page 128, the glossary begins, with words related to prohibition and temperance and such. This would definitely be beneficial for the younger readers which this book is aimed at, as they would be unfamiliar with many. I also liked that this edition comes with discussion questions, so it would be useful perhaps for high school history classes.
Overall I would definitely recommend this one to the audience for which it is intended - or those like me who now much more about the 'wet' side of the issue than the 'dry'.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
No, I am not dead. In fact, I am very alive and very busy, so my blog has not gotten the love and attention it deserves here in November due to that pesky real life job of mine. However, this coming weekend should change that and I hope to have plenty of new reviews and other content then. Thank you for stopping by!
Monday, November 7, 2016
If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you may know of my serious addiction to BookBub. It is amazing and terrible. Today I was notified that this lovely:
is currently on sale for $1.99. It is gossipy and a quick read. It is not the best book you will ever read, but it is all the stuff you'd want to know about life inside the White House.
Thank you the The Broke and the Bookish (link in the above TTT graphic) for another fun topic for the week!
So, I pretty much have a TBR list that I could never possibly hope to conquer. it kind of makes me sad to think there are books I will never get to read. I try to hold off a while on adding new books (BookBub is a huge problem for me), but that never lasts long no matter how hard I try. All of the following books are ones I have added within the last month or so, in no particular order. The majority are not new books, but those I have come across based on my non-fiction interests as I amass a bigger and bigger TBR list.
1. I dig Feinstein because I like his writing style and I love sports. He's a great writer and one I never tire of reading. I honestly don't know how I missed this one. Date added: 10-31-16
2. Somehow this one escaped my attention as well. But I scooped it up at one of our awesome museums a few weeks ago after meandering my way through the exhibit 'The Rise and Fall of Prohibition'. If you find this exhibit coming to a museum near you in the future, go see it, it is so completely engrossing. Date Added: 10-16-16
3. I have been waiting for this one and am happy to say that I only have a few more weeks to go. Date Added: 10-15-16
4. I have a confession to make - I am not exactly a die-hard Stephen King fan. I have read surprisingly little of his work. However, he happens to be the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Shining. So, I figured perhaps it is time to get to know the genius behind the greatest horror novel of all time. Date Added: 11-3-16
5. I dig sports, which I might have mentioned a few books ago. I also dig Nike, and was the only brand I wore when I played basketball. Also, Michael Jordan = G.O.A.T. and I assume he may figure into the story here and there... Added: 10-31-16
6. As a mother to a young Mighty Girl, I am increasingly interested in the women who played crucial roles in the development of our space program. I've read several books by those connected specifically to the Apollo 13 mission, but none by women who deserve to have their voices heard too. I so wish I had been alive in those days when going into space was a big deal, that is was still a wonder and something to marvel at. Now we seem to take that ability for granted. I would love to see NASA funding regain priority and see what wonders there are out there, waiting for us to discover them. Date Added: 10-31-16
7. I am endlessly fascinated by so many of our presidents and am trying to expand by knowledge to ALL presidents, regardless of the fact that perhaps they and I do not see eye to eye on issues. I find the view point of a Secret Service agent especially intriguing and am definitely looking forward to this one. Date Added: 10-31-16
8. Robber Barons and the Gilded Age never cease to amaze me - something you might have noticed if you saw my TTT list last week. What a time to be alive. But also to not be alive, you know, on account of the not being able to vote thing. Date Added: 10-29-16
9. Without getting too political, I am highly alarmed also by the fact that a figure in the public arena, running for the highest office in the land, of the greatest country in the world, is part of this problem. It is not a new problem, of course, but the millions of supporters are certainly signifying their acceptance of this as normal and it is not. It is NEVER the survivor's fault, no matter how much she or he has had to drink, what she or he is wearing, or the time of night she or he was walking home. NEVER. As a mother to a young girl, it completely terrifies me and breaks my heart that this is the world she is growing up in. Date Added: 10-21-16
10. I am interested to see if there is a take on single moms, or if this is strictly about single, unmarried, childless women. I think there are many women who were born to be mothers but not wives, and am very interested to see if that is addressed. Date Added: 10-31-16
Side Note: Halloween was apparently a REALLY good book-find day for me. Leave a note and let me know what you think - and a link to your list so I can see how many more books I need to add to my TBR list.