488 Followers
602 Following
Kaethe

Kaethe

"http://booklikes.com/widget/profile?id=27266&title=My Profile&bt&cr&on&la&nfr&nfg&ns&tb&bry&br&ra" scrolling="no" style="border-radius: 5px; background: transparent none repeat scroll 0% 0%; border: 1px solid rgb(204, 204, 204); width: 220px; height: 488px;" frameborder="0">

Me...Jane - Patrick McDonnell 

Me...Jane - Patrick McDonnell

For such a brief book, McDonnell has done a marvelous thing. He doesn't try to give us the entire life of Jane Goodall, just a glimpse at a child who was fascinated by animals and nature and Africa and how that lead to the adult she became. The art is perfect, incorporating Victorian animal illustrations, a sweet, almost cartoonish style, and memorabilia from Goodall. I expect the child who is like Goodall (albeit with pandas and China) will really love it.<br/><br/>Library copy.

Friday On My Mind - Nicci French 

Friday On My Mind - Nicci French

All of the Nicci French books, standalones and series work very well for me. There's that depressing tone you expect in a story about people who do horrible things, but there is also a strong sense of moral justice, kindness to the outcasts of society which is Christlike without being Christian (immigrants, the homeless, women, the mentally ill standing in for slaves, women, lepers, and the possessed) the importance of intervention, and so much about accepting the kindness of others. Everyone who knows Klein is devoted to her or in opposition to her, but there is no question that she deserves the devotion. Fortunately, she doesn't walk on water, only near it, so much walking, and such happy descriptions of what her little home means to her, and cats, and baths, and wines and tasty food. It's the same sort of mood that made the Richard Jury series a favorite. Because mysteries are involved with the restoration of order they often are very conservative. Not this series, though; Klein is a bomb-thrower at heart.

 

Klein is surrounded by people in harrowing circumstances and she does her best for others and herself. So the books are quite soothing, despite the dramatic tension.

 

Can't wait to have a go at the Saturday book.

 

Library copy

 

The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan  

The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Lots of people avoid Romance as a genre because
1) they don't care about women in ballgowns
2) everything they know about Romance novels is 40 years out of date
3) they assume Romance is a genre for lonely women with too many cats
4) they buy into the idea that a genre by and about women must be inferior
5) they have no idea where to start.

Let me address those concerns.
1) The ballgown on the cover is just to let you know that this is an Historical Romance, an it is available; no actual ball gowns are worn during the story
2) Although there are still stories being written about nurses falling for doctors and innocent young girls being married off to blackguards, those are by no means the most popular themes these days. This book, for instance, is first wave feminism in all its activist glory
3) And I suppose you believe that the average gamer these days is a teenage boy in his parent's basement* killing something in a first person shooter
4) Honestly I can't imagine that anyone professes this belief, even if they have it
5) Courtney Milan, but also Jezebel.com has been covering the topic with lots of good suggestions

This book is pure enjoyment, but it's the end of the series, so if this really is your first Romance in a while (or ever), go check out The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister short 0.5)at Amazon for 99 cents. Selling shorter interstitial works in the series between novels is a genius move, by the way. You don't have to read the series strictly in order, they aren't that closely tied, but they do share some characters.

Personal copy

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi  

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi

Interesting and so much fun. I'm going to love this series. This is a different universe for Scalzi: the planets are mostly not habitable on their surfaces, The universe isn't full of fascinating intelligent species, although there are a fair number of humans scattered about. Two of the main protagonists are women, both of them clever as hell, one also profane as hell. Her language, her incredible, individual, hand-crafted bespoke foul language is one othe the lightest and best ongoing jokes.

The story is concerned with a colonized universe, a new emperox of same, a clever mathematician, a clever foe, political machinations, and much of it slower than slugs because of the time constraints on communication.But even though the timeline is lengthy, the books never flags. It zips on, only filling in small amounts of the gaps.Oh, the depths of those plots!

It reminds me a bit of some of the Foundation books, except with a lot more humor. It more closely resembles Scott Westerfeld's novels of his Succession empire.

Scalzi does a great job of keeping the story grounded, while also maintaining his sense of humor.

Supremely enjoyable.
Library copy

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest - Jennifer Crusie 

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest - Jennifer Crusie

work library has it. Trying to get it downloaded onto a device I can read it on. So much aggravation.

I have it on my phone, now. W00t! If I can get it on my Kindle I will be a very happy person for about 5 minutes, until something else comes along to annoy me. Fingers crossed. I wanted the Fire specifically to be able to take advantage of the extensive work elibrary.

Now I've run into problems getting the sundry devices onto the Wifi network. Sigh. It's not a big problem, just a little niggling one that's going to drag this whole thing out for the entire day.

Not to name names, but the app for reading this on my phone was not convenient.

But the essays, they are intriguing. But also, collectively a little clueless. So many contrast New England culture against [place where the author is now] which is utterly unlike Star's Hollow, for good and ill. Seriously? I realize that Connecticut is the Land of WASPs, the place where Pilgrims get all the attention, but seriously, the lack of history re the entire rest of the nation was off-puttingly White-minded and just wrong. No one should ever again get a book chapter out of ignoring 1) millennia of First Nations, 2) five hundred years of Norse, and English, and Irish exploration and settlement, mostly for the cod 3) French settlement in Acadia 3) more than two hundred years of Spanish exploration and colonization. Seriously, Plymouth wasn't even the first permanent English colony in what is now the USA during the 17th century: there were already three in Virginia.

Generally I love a pop culture essay. I enjoy someone taking a tv show seriously, seeing what it says about society, family, religion, adulthood. Of course, there are problems: backstory is incomplete, sometimes contradictory, often open to interpretation, and that's when these essays get really good. Because there is no objective reality, everyone ends up writing not about the show, but about themselves. It's a Rorschach test. Humans are social animals, and it desire to examine the related between us is just as strong when we're talking about imaginary people. In real life a person rarely has to choose between two romantic prospects, but as a mental exercise it makes us consider what is most important: do we prefer similar backgrounds, or shared passions? Charm or loving actions? What do we need to be content?

So, here I am, nothing like Lorelei, except I do live in a charming old small town, and I like junk food and old movies and coffee, and books examining what this all means.

Library copy 

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living - Nick Offerman  

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living - Nick Offerman

Offerman is a lucky guy would had a good childhood, a good and meaningful college time, followed by the rest of his life, working hard at work and crafts he appreciates (which is mostly being silly, but also involves building canoes). He has a good work ethic and a seemingly kind heart, as well as a seriously advanced sense of humor. It's delightful to read a memoir by someone who understands that his life is very good and that he's lucky to have so many sources of pleasure.

On the downside, he has a very strong personality which won't appeal to all readers and which can become rather much of a muchness. Everyone's mileage is likely to vary a great deal.

Library copy

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi 

The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi

Interesting and so much fun. I'm going to love this series. This is a different universe for Scalzi: the planets are mostly not habitable on their surfaces, The universe isn't full of fascinating intelligent species, although there are a fair number of humans scattered about. Two of the main protagonists are women, both of them clever as hell, one also profane as hell. Her language, her incredible, individual, hand-crafted bespoke foul language is one othe the lightest and best ongoing jokes.

 

The story is concerned with a colonized universe, a new emperox of same, a clever mathematician, a clever foe, political machinations, and much of it slower than slugs because of the time constraints on communication.But even though the timeline is lengthy, the books never flags. It zips on, only filling in small amounts of the gaps.Oh, the depths of those plots!

 

It reminds me a bit of some of the Foundation books, except with a lot more humor. It more closely resembles Scott Westerfeld's novels of his Succession empire.

 

Scalzi does a great job of keeping the story grounded, while also maintaining his sense of humor.

 

Supremely enjoyable.

Library copy

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty 

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty

Broke my reading block, I hope. Liane is sister to Jaclyn, whose books I've adored. How cool is this family?

 


April 10, 2017
Told Erin how much I enjoyed her recommendation, and about my delight in discovering that Liane was sister to Jaclyn. Now I'm going to read all of Liane's books and Erin said she'll give Jaclyn a go, since she's read all of Liane's.

 

Library copy

Recommended by Erin

 

The Lost House - B. B. Cronin

The Lost House - B. B. Cronin

Grandad lives in an Edwardian house with a great deal of stuff around, in astoundingly fluorescent rooms. I loved the contrast between the detailed period architecture of the rooms and the postmodern colors. Fun.

 

Library copy  .

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest - Leah Wilson, Jennifer Crusie 

Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest - Leah Wilson, Jennifer Crusie

work library has it. Trying to get it downloaded onto a device I can read it on. So much aggravation.

I have it on my phone, now. W00t! If I can get it on my Kindle I will be a very happy person for about 5 minutes, until something else comes along to annoy me. Fingers crossed. I wanted the Fire specifically to be able to take advantage of the extensive work elibrary.

Now I've run into problems getting the sundry devices onto the Wifi network. Sigh. It's not a big problem, just a little niggling one that's going to drag this whole thing out for the entire day.

Not to name names, but the app for reading this on my phone was not convenient.

But the essays, they are intriguing. But also, collectively a little clueless. So many contrast New England culture against [place where the author is now] which is utterly unlike Star's Hollow, for good and ill. Seriously? I realize that Connecticut is the Land of WASPs, the place where Pilgrims get all the attention, but seriously, the lack of history re the entire rest of the nation was off-puttingly White-minded and just wrong. No one should ever again get a book chapter out of ignoring 1) millennia of First Nations, 2) five hundred years of Norse, and English, and Irish exploration and settlement, mostly for the cod 3) French settlement in Acadia 3) more than two hundred years of Spanish exploration and colonization. Seriously, Plymouth wasn't even the first permanent English colony in what is now the USA during the 17th century: there were already three in Virginia.

Generally I love a pop culture essay. I enjoy someone taking a tv show seriously, seeing what it says about society, family, religion, adulthood. Of course, there are problems: backstory is incomplete, sometimes contradictory, often open to interpretation, and that's when these essays get really good. Because there is no objective reality, everyone ends up writing not about the show, but about themselves. It's a Rorschach test. Humans are social animals, and it desire to examine the related between us is just as strong when we're talking about imaginary people. In real life a person rarely has to choose between two romantic prospects, but as a mental exercise it makes us consider what is most important: do we prefer similar backgrounds, or shared passions? Charm or loving actions? What do we need to be content?

So, here I am, nothing like Lorelei, except I do live in a charming old small town, and I like junk food and old movies and coffee, and books examining what this all means.

Library copy

 

The Secret Subway - Shana Corey, Red Nose Studio

The Secret Subway - Red Nose Studio, Shana Corey

Forgotten engineering, steampunk pneumatic tubes, political machinations: I love stories of grand efforts that get overlooked by history, and trains, so this would be a winner. But then, the art: the puppets, the sets, the costumes! And excellent back matter! Sadly my local library, like many, wraps the dust jacket in a milar/paper cover which is then taped down, so I couldn't enjoy the bonus material on the art, but I get it's really cool. I'm only sorry it isn't also a short film, because that would be awesome!

 

Library copy.

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey - William Wordsworth  

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey - William Wordsworth

6 June, 1982

Read for AP English. I rather like Wordsworth, even though I'm not a huge poetry fan.

 

Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume II, which I have kept

***

31 March, 2017

Reread today because it came to my attention. Thirty-five years on, I'm not the same person who read it then. Now I have a daughter in her own senior year of high school. It seems an unbelievable length of time, and yet, hardly any. The math is accurate. But thirty-five years since I graduated high school? And here I am, full circle, worrying about Russia and nuclear war, and the Berlin Wall is now a piece of rubble in that part of the kitchen where strange things show up from time to time. Inconceivable.

I don't share Wordsworth's delight in the countryside in general, although I did find delight in standing outside just now, after the rain, looking for a rainbow. Still I think I get some of what he was trying to say. None of the people who were with me in that last year are near me now, although I suppose I could connect with them all on FaceBook, well, except my parents, who have both died. But I think I get the point he was making about being able to return to a place after whatever changes I've been through, and to feel again the same kinds of sensations. The place I return to isn't a scenic walk in the mountains at the Borders, it's a text, which is the only permanence I know.

There are only two kinds of poetry I care for, still: light verse which amuses and delights Old Possum's Book never gets old to me, nor The Jabberwocky, and poetry like this, that gets at the feelings. I suppose it is the same way I feel about music, that it is an easy and reliable way into a particular emotion.

None of this sheds any light on Wordsworth's poem, and my AP English teacher wouldn't have accepted a paper like this, but this is what reading is for me: a way to share emotions with other people across space and time, or even just with myself. An emotional time machine. I think he'd understand that.

 

Free copy from Project Gutenberg

When Bad Things Happen to Good People - Harold S. Kushner

When Bad Things Happen to Good People - Harold S. Kushner

I've no desire to deprive the grieving of anything that might help: get through this unimaginable horror, and then later on you can deal with whatever problems your coping mechanism has created.

Kushner chooses to believe in an imperfect god, which allows him to maintain his belief while at the same time exonerating his god for all the pain, suffering, and death which befall the most innocent of bystanders. It doesn't work for me. Either this god could prevent all misery, and deliberately chooses not to, in which case I want nothing to do with him because mean. Or, this god who supposedly created this entire universe isn't powerful enough to prevent misery, in which case that first bit must be a lie, huh?

I find it much more comforting to believe that what happens to us is just plain dumb luck (or lack thereof). And that we should all of us feel real sympathy for the pain of others which could easily be our own. And of course, I believe in harm reduction, which means that as social animals we must do everything possible to reduce the misery among us, because clearly no one else can be bothered.

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi

Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi - John Scalzi, Natalie Metzger

I'm hoping that this id the gateway book for the rest of the family. So far I haven't talked two of them into anything, and the one who's enjoyed the hell out of Your Hatemail Will Be Graded, hasn't bestirred herself to sample the fiction. Of course she could find the time to read Handmaid's Tale a third time in preparation for for her exam, but does Agent to the Stars get even a cursory glance? I really thought the daughters would go for Zoe's Tale or Fuzzy Nation, but not a nibble. Big sigh.

library copy

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia - Sy Montgomery,Nic Bishop

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia - Sy Montgomery, Nic Bishop

Maddeningly, I could not get my Fire to cooperate and let me write some kind of review yesterday.

 

Scientists in the Field Series

 

I've read two now, and on behalf of the parents of inquisitive children, let me say "Thank You! HMH Books for Young Readers, thank you so much for producing non-fiction books for children that have actual content. Mere words cannot express my gratitude. Here, take all my money and produce more of these fine volumes."

 

I can't be the only adult to rend my garments and gnash my teeth and having to read aloud the one hundredth book on say, pandas, that the child has managed to find, and that contains several lovely pictures and not enough facts or even theories to fill a photo caption. Three year olds may lack context, but they aren't stupid. Nor are they afraid of big words. Everyone has met the equivalent of the child who knows the correct names and pronunciations (I always had a hard time with these, the stress is never where I expect it to be) of every dinosaur ever cataloged. All that brainspace, and nothing to fill it up. But not this series. These books, bless 'em,these books tell the reader so much. This one gives a bit of personal history of the lead researcher on the project, what he studied in college, what kinds of jobs and graduate school lead to him being in expert on the snow leopards of Mongolia and how to count them, despite being one of the most difficult animals to locate in the wild.

 

There's a bit of background on the political and cultural history of Mongolia, a bit of the climate and ecology of the Gobi. there's a bit on language, on the practicality of gers (Mongolian yurts), and the popularity of the color orange in the painting of doors, which with the frames can be popped into the ger as it is set up. there's information on the physical demands of this particular field work, on the challenges of feeding a vegetarian writer in a region whose diet is almost entirely meat and dairy.

 

And then, of course, there is the science. In order to save an endangered species you have to be able to estimate the population and gauge the trend in population after an intervention. Tracking animals with radio collars is helpful, but first you have to safely capture the animals, and these big kitties are so perfectly camouflaged it is possible to be within two feet of one with a tracking collar and still not see it.

 

I'll stop now. I think I've made it clear how enjoyable and informative the books in this series are. I haven't managed to talk anyone in the family into starting either of these yet, but my ceaseless yammering will wear down their resistance. Perhaps you are not a fan of books for younger readers, or you're not interested in the science of [insert fascinating topic here]. Even so, I ask you to keep them in mind. Make sure the youngest people of your acquaintance have a copy that suits their particular interests. Keep them in mind as an introduction to a topic that is more entertaining and encompassing than the average Wiki, but short enough to read in a couple of hours. Or just check one out of the library to look at the pretty pictures (the photography meets the same high standards as the text, and the back matter) and read the captions, that'll teach you enough to sound well informed at the next cocktail party [I've never actually attended a cocktail party, possibly they do not exist outside of fiction. Feel free to substitute the making-conversation-with-strangers-or-nearly scenario that works best for you.]

 

If you aren't in the habit of reading nonfiction for children, but you've read this gushing review anyway, I thank you. If you didn't read the review, but somehow found this bit at the end, I'll put it in this perspective: if I graded books on a scale, all the others would have to be marked down from five stars to one.

 

Library copy

The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare

The Taming of the Shrew - William Shakespeare

In high school Brad and I did a scene for the school, and then I read all the plays for my two Shakespeare classes at UNCG, and now I've reread it to keep Veronica company. As written there is only one amusing scene; takes some keen acting and directing to pull the rest of it off. Ten Things I Hate About You is universally preferred in our house.

personal copy