Friday, April 24, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe

This was just impossible to put down! Graduate student Connie Goodwin is looking for a great topic and primary sources for her PhD, and has to spend the summer clearing out her grandmother's house in Marblehead Massachusetts. While there, she finds things that lead her into researching events that took place during the Salem witch trials, and the book weaves back and forth through time, telling the story of Deliverance Dane and the Salem witches.

It wasn't 'literary fiction' or what have you- it was a fun, fast read that I finished in one late night. I had just read The Heretic's Daughter, by Katherine Kent- a much more serious look at the witch trials, so I'm not sure how much of my enthusiasm for this book might have been because of already having Salem on my mind, but I really liked having a female character in this kind of pop-fic quest type thing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connolly

Legal thriller. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Liked Patrick the surfer, was ok with the lawyer and the cop.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Fantastic! EVERYTHING blew up and quite a few people exploded. It was like Blair Witch crossed with Godzilla, shaky hand cam and all. Wunderbar.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Disney. So, of course, hideous, but at the same time, delicious. like a freakin poison twinkie.
Amy Adams is ridiculously charming.

Swede Dreams, by Eva Apelqvist

Sweet book in the S.A.S.S. YA series. In this one, Calista goes to Stockholm, learns Swedish, and finds herself. Lots of herring and so forth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Heretic's Daughter, by Kathleen Kent

Really good historical fiction. Set in Andover, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials. Sarah Carrier must stuggle to survive as her family, always outsiders, are targeted and her mother Martha is convicted of being a witch.
Really brought the horror of it all to life, and the author is a tenth- generation descendant of Martha Carrier.
Book won the David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction.

Betsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace

So cute! I don't know how I never read this before. Lovely, sweet story of friendship between 5 year olds in a disappeared small-town America.

Show of Hands, by Anthony McCarten

Absolutely incredible book- wonderful.
Set at a failing car dealership, 40 people begin trying to win a new Range Rover in a contest of who can keep one hand on the car the longest. As days go by, contestants drop out, learn about each other, learn about themselves, and the reader is in for a devastating ride.
This was impossible to put down- I'm so glad I read it.
Heartbreaking and also an incredible glimpse of people's stupid, vain courage and determination to have one, shiny thing.
Hell of a good book.

13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests

This was fantastic. I loved seeing the original screen tests and I thought the new music written for the film was perfect. Some of the clips are just haunting- Ann and Edie, especially, and I couldn't believe what a perfect Coke commercial Lou Reed's clip would be.

American Roots Music

Excellent documentary tracing American roots music through history. Wonderful clips of bluies, jazz, country, gospel- oh, some wonderful music on this. Great interviews too.

Posed for Murder, by Meredith Cole

So-so murder mystery. Got great reviews, but I thought it wasn't that great. Even I guessed the bloody killer, and I think the raves it's getting are because maybe the reviewers think that setting a 'traditional' mystery in 'edgy' artsy Brooklyn might attrack younger readers to the genre.
Get off my lawn, I say. Off off off.

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, by Stephanie Hale

I can't imagine why I requested this book, but up it came for me as a hold, so I read it.
Classic mean-girl-finds-new-meaning-in-life-and-changes thing. Fine, but nothing special.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw, by Jeff Kinney

Further adventures of Greg Heffley. Still funny, not as fresh.

Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, by Wade Rouse

Entertaining but disturbing book. Rouse is the parent-school liason at a very expensive prep school, but the parents are loathsome, the administration turns willing blind eyes to cruelty, and Rouse is such a fawning sycophant that he can't stand himself even as he kisses the Mommie's asses.


Fun movie about the growth of the California wine industry and the great achievement the growers made when US wine beat French wine in the Paris wine tasting of 1976.

The Search for John Gissing

Odd, kind of funny but not very funny movie about businessmen trying to drive each other crazy.

V for Vendetta

Interesting but flawed movie set in near-future fascist Britain. Surveilance society, racism, anti-immigration, tortue, all the usual yadda yadda. Guy Fawkes and Remember remember the 5th of November.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bad Money: Reckless Finance Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, by Kevin Phillips

Very interesting and frightening book. Phillips presents the current economic crisis as seen against other similar ends of ruling nations, such as Habsburg Spain, maritime Holland, Britain before WWI, and of course, Rome.
The decline of manufacturing and the rise in finance, the corruption of the capitals and collusion of government in unfettering capitalism, the decline of international influence and the decline of the dollar, the way that the dollar is tied to oil and the rising forces of China, Russia and India all combine in this excellent and clearly written book.
Lots of economic theory, mixed well with a solid scoop of history and a big chunk of current events.

The Agency, by Ally O'Brien

Odd book. Part chick-lit, part murder-mystery, unlikeable characters, a deus ex-machina cameo from Tom Cruise- it should have been awful, but was somehow kind of fun and rollicking.

"Some bastard is accusing Dorothy of stealing her pandas from his father, Cosima says she'll bury me if I leave, Tom Cruise probably thinks I'm insane, my married boyfriend dumped me, my other boyfriend is a scoundrel, and the police think I killed Lowell."

I don't know about you, but any book that manages to round all that into one sentence has something going for it in my opinion. Good bath book, this one.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Testimony, by Anita Shreve

Three senior boys and one freshman girl in a dorm room at an exclusive prepschool = hell for the entire town.
The cover was so good, I really had to pick it up. I enjoyed the book, and thought it well written, and I definitely am not sure what I think should have happened within the story- a lot of interesting moral ambiguity in this.
I was surprised thought that Shreve made it so clear that "the girl was to blame"- I think it made me slightly uncomfortable and I wished she had made Sienna's character less hateful, and I think it would have made for a stronger book.

The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson

Caldecott winner picture book. Aimed at very very young ones.

Death and the Lit Chick, by G.M. Malliet

Fun and clever mystery! I loved Death of a Cosy Writer so much that we're doing it for the mystery book group at the library, so I was really looking forward to this one, which was fantastic. Fair-play mysteries, with a lot of style. Also, i loved the ripping on the stereotypes of the writers, and the phrase "womjep" has to become part of my daily vocabulary- it's for woman-in-jeopardy suspense fiction, like Nora Roberts et al.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flow: How Did a Handful of Corporations Steal Our Water?

Excellent documentary about the privatisation of water- mostly in developing nations, where any increase in expense can be a death sentence, but also in the USA. Nestle, Vivendi, Suez, Coca-Cola and other major multi-nationals are profiled and the horror of it all was beautifully and simply articulated. Resourse wars are here.
Sign the petition to create Article 31- a vital addition to the UN's 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - the right to water.
Article 31:
Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance.
Link to petition

Quantum of Solace

Oooh, new Bond is so violent. I kind of miss suave, jokey Brosnan Bond, but this was good- nice traditional Bond beginning, with the silhouettes and so forth, and two excellent Bond girls, Olga Kurlyenko and Gemma Arterton.
Car chases, plane chases, motorcycle chases, boat chases, runninf on roofs and some excellent explosions.
Plot hinged on water rights in Bolivia, which was almost comically appropriate because immediately after watching Quantum of Solace, I put on Flow, a documentary about the privatization of water rights across the world, and it focused on Bolivia. Serendipity!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz

Now, this was a stunner. After reading A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever, I was despairing, and on the verge of having a small meltdown.
This has saved me.
This was beautiful, from start to finish.
I think this might be more for the adults than for the children, to be honest, but having been the sister of a boy who loved maps , and then marrying a man who loves maps, I think I might have found the perfect book should either of them ever have to do a storytime.
The way the writer described how the maps opened the world was so simple and so perfect.
This was lovely.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever, by Marla Frazee

Caldecott honor book, and I couldn't stand it. I felt it was disrespectful (get off my lawn!!!) and although the last bits were lovely, I felt it pandered so to the Diary of A Wimpy Kid demographic that it made it unlikeable, let alone lovable.
It brought tears to my eyes- yes. For all the wrong reasons- yes.


Wow- not nearly as terrible as I thought it would be! In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. (!!!) Despite the really effed up gender politics at work here, it was a hot romance type thing with ridiculously pretty leads and a lovely eye for scenery. Not bad at all.