Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

This was a really unique book. It was almost hypnotic, in the way it was written. It tells the story of a changeling boy and the human boy whose place he took, and the two characters alternate viewpoints every other chapter. I really enjoyed the book, though I felt the ending was a bit anticlimatic. Anyone who enjoyed "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger would probably enjoy this as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer (graphic novel)

When you stop to think about it, superheroes must have bad days too. And man, are they having a bad day in this book. I wasn't all that familiar with the characters, although anyone who's read comic books will have a passing familiarity with them -- Green Arrow, the Flash, Superman, etc.  But what's great about Meltzer's story is that you really don't HAVE to know the characters in order to feel for what they are going through. And what was even more interesting to me is that the book acknowledged that prior actions taken by the superheroes, with the best of intentions, may have gone really wrong and caused the problems they were facing today.
In short, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It was an interesting story, very well-drawn, and extremely compelling. (Plus, for those of you who like closure, it has a clear beginning and an end. :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

"Read this book! You'll love it!" everyone kept telling me. So I finally picked it up, fearing that it could never live up to the expectations that had been building up. But I did enjoy it, very much. I will now join the crowd of people recommending it!

Good Night and Good Luck (movie)

Saw this movie last night. I didn't like it as well as many critics did. While the whole Edward R. Murrow-Joseph McCarthy fight was certainly interesting, I'm not sure it was enough to sustain a movie. I think it might have interested me more as an actual documentary, rather than a "Based on a true story!!" film. The storyline was kind of thin, and it seemed like they just threw in random characters so they would be able to say "Cate Blanchett was in this film!" Well, sure she was, but WHY? Her character and her storyline didn't really add much. And she was the token "strong woman" in the film (and pretty much the only woman, except some random jazz singer who kept showing up and belting out tunes), but the men STILL sent her out to get the newspapers. Hmph.

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

Wow, what a great book, and almost impossible to set down. Dragons, epic sea voyages, swordfights, and compelling characters all combine to make this a great book. And it's nice that it's a paperback, so you can tuck it in your purse and haul it out when you are waiting in line at the bank! (There are at least 2 sequels, and they were good, but I didn't enjoy them as much as I did the first one.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Next of Kin by Joanna Trollope

Another good book about a family that's falling apart and how its members gradually figure out a path through the wilderness that is life (if I may use so bold a metaphor!).

Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (without being a bitch) -- Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio

Disappointing. Too simplistic and unreasonable, at least for me. It felt to me that the authors were saying "Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Just don't!"   And, if there's one thing that I know about myself, it's that I will find a way of screwing up somehow. So what I really wanted was a book that would acknowledge that I am going to screw up, and help me figure out some ways of minimizing the damage when that happens. The overall portrait that the authors paint of a successful female manager reminds me more like a robot than an actual person. "Do this. Don't do that. Be firm. But not too firm." Sounds like a road map to disaster. So, I guess I'll just have to continue my struggle on my own -- this book is not going to provide any magic answers.

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Everyone's talking about the Long Tail, an idea that originated in an article Anderson wrote for Wired in 2004, then expanded into book form. Anderson argues that several factors, including the ease of mass production, combined with the Internet's profound impact on product distribution and advertising, are changing the face of business today. It's a really interesting book, and well worth reading, but if you want to just get your feet wet, you can try reading the original article (Wired, 10/2004,  

Car Talk: The Hatchback of Notre Dame (audio book)

Few things put me into a good mood faster than hearing Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, guffaw hysterically about nothing in particular. This is an hour-long compilation of some of their favorite calls-- and it certainly did make the commute go by quickly! I highly recommend it.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn (graphic novel)

This is a great story about six teenagers who discover something horrible about their parents, then go on the lam trying to deal with what they learned and also trying to get along with each other (they don't have much in common). If you used to read comics as a kid, it probably won't take you long to get into this. If you're one of those people who hasn't ever read comics, it might take you a few pages to figure out how to read it, but the payoff is worth it -- it's very entertaining and action-packed!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dixie Chicks -- Taking The Long Way (music)

I really enjoyed the Dixie Chicks' latest album. Their beautiful voices and powerful songs just make me want to crank the volume up, roll the windows down and sing (badly) along with them. If you've never listened to the Dixie Chicks, this is a great one to start with.

Babymouse series, by Jennifer & Matthew Holm

Read these incredibly funny, sweet graphic novels for kids! In the first one, Babymouse: Queen of the World, we are introduced to our heroine, whose imagination often runs wild and carries her away to amazing places. In the second book, Babymouse: Our Hero, she overcomes the horror of being forced to play dodgeball in school (and who among us can not relate to that horror), and in the third, Babymouse: Beach Babe, she goes to the beach with her family and encounters sharks, rogue waves, and more. Thank goodness the series will continue this fall with Babymouse: Rock Star. I can't wait!  These books are definitely not just for kids. Read 'em -- you won't be sorry.

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue! by Carla Williams

I'm not much of a cook, so imagine my delight when I came across this book while weeding our cookbook section! This is a great book for busy people who want to put a little zing in their food routine. It provides 125 recipes that you can make with those pre-cooked rotisserie chickens that can be found in almost any grocery store. You can find recipes for salads, soups and stews, casseroles, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. You can do more things with a store-bought rotisserie chicken than I even dreamed of! Reading the cookbook made me very hungry... so I went out to eat. (See, I told you I'm not much of a cook. But if I was, this cookbook would definitely inspire me.)  

24 Hours on Craigslist (video)

Wow, what an interesting documentary! Craigslist is basically a giant Internet community bulletin board (with no ads!), and the documentary follows people who placed ads during one 24-hour period in 2003, in San Francisco, the city where Craigslist originated. I had no idea there were this many weird and wonderful people out there. What I liked almost as much as the film itself was the special feature, "Who is Craig??," which interviews the staff of Craigslist (including Craig himself) about why they do what they do.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Does This Cape Make Me Look Fat? by Chelsea Cain and Marc Mohan

Anyone who read even one or two comic books growing up will get a laugh out of this book, which has sections labeled "Advice for Sidekicks," "Tough Love: If Your Parent Is A Supervillain," and "What To Do If Your Sidekick Dies." ("Don't panic. Replace him as soon as possible with someone else who fits the costume. A close physical resemblance to the previous sidekick will help avoid awkward questions.") A great antidote for a hot, hot day.