Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book 29 - Feast for Crows by George RR Martin


I finished this but am not going to do a full out review because, quite frankly, one can't be done without massive amounts of spoilers. All I can say is that you have to read these books. Totally the best fantasy books I have read since the "classics."

Book 28 - Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson


I have followed Jenny Lawson's blogforever it seems like so when I saw that she, like a few other bloggers recently, had written a book, I got it from the library to read at my leisure. I think that this book is kind of true in some ways but it's hard to tell because some of the stories that she tells are so odd that I can't imagine them truly happening to anyone (although some of the stories that I have are "quirky" and hard to believe but are true - like getting lost at the age of 5 at Macy's Turkey Day parade in Time Square in Manhattan and living to tell about it - but are most assuredly true, so who am I to judge right?). Anyways, Ms. Lawson aka her highness, the Bloggess, grew up in West Texas and most of the stories that she tells are about her time there and about her attempts to deal with some significant social anxiety.

About one third of the way through the book, I began to get bored bt that's when I met Victor, Jenny's husband, who entered an additional charm and humor to the book that was needed at that point, or the book would have risked dragging. Victor is portrayed as being tremendously sweet and just wonderful - which I'm sure that he is - and the interactions that Jenny describes in her book are hilarious in part because Victor has a pretty good sense of humor in dealing with the things that happen to Jenny (and she's pretty funny herself!). These things being said, I really enjoyed this book - but I wouldn't read it if you are easily offended by lots of things, get freaked out easily and don't like cursing or references to alcohol because this book is chock full of em. I generally liked it and would read it again in a heartbeat.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book 27 - Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian


I have been a fan of Chris Bohjalian's since I read Midwives back in the late 90's and I became even more of a fan when I learned that he, like me at certain points in my life, was living in a very rural community in Vermont. Skeletons at the Feast is his first foray into historical fiction, I think.

Bohjalian writes about the period right before the end of the Second World War. The Emmerich family are leaving their manor house as the Russians approach. The family is comprised of Anna, her mother, nicknamed Mutti, her father, Rolf, her twin brother Helmut, her younger brother Theo and the Scottish POW, Callum Finella, who has been working on the farm. Anna also has an older brother named Werner, that is referred to a lot, but whom we don't see because he is off at the front, fighting for the Third Reich. Rolf and Helmut eventually leave the family and the rest move on in an effort to escape the Russians. They eventually cross paths with a Jewish man named Uri Singer, who poses as either a Russian or a German, in order to escape persecution at the hands of either group.

I loved this book. I can't tell you how much I loved this book, because it is beyond words. I loved and appreciated it because it told a perspective that is somewhat different from what a lot of people think about when they think about WWII - the bombing of Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima and Nagasaki/the atrocities committed against thee Jews and gypsies by the Nazis. However, this novel reminded us that oftentimes average Germans were also targeted and victimized, although not as severely or as badly as other groups (they did have the benefit of being "Aryan" German). The characters in this novel lived in a very rural area and heard rumors of the awful things that their beloved Fuhrer committed against Jews and others but they never personally saw or participated in those awful events. They didn't even witness the mass evacuations of the concentration camps. In fact, when Mutti finds out pretty certainly what her beloved leader has been doing, she is so mortified and shamed, that I thought that she would kill herself.

This book was wonderful, easy to read and quite interesting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book 26 - Enlightened Sexism by Susan Douglas


I was trolling through the books that some of my Wellesley profs were reading because a lot of times, I find really interesting and well researched books and this was no exception. This book takes a look at how popular American culture puts forth, what I call, subtle sexism in the guise of female empowerment. In essence, Susan Douglas argues that society tells us that women have achieved equality, at least in the Western world and with regards to things like equal pay for equal work. She deftly takes apart pop culture and in doing so, demonstrates adeptly that sexism is alive and well, albeit in a more subtle form.

There were many persuasive arguments put forth and many interesting topics covered including The Spice Girls phenomenon and the rise of kick-butt female heroes, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved how accessible Douglas made this book - it's a book that everyone can read and is completely understandable based mostly on the fact that the examples that she used are things that we are familiar with simply because we live and operate in American culture. I can't wait until my children are old enough to read this book so that I can read it with both of them!

My Education by Susan Choi

I admit it: I have a thing about academic novels.  And by that, I  mean novels that occur on campuses and are about characters that are ent...