Friday, April 30, 2010

Dead End Gene Pool, by Wendy Burden

Fascinating memoir by one of the last Vanderbilt descendants.

Jane Bites Back, by Michael Thomas Ford

Very well done Jane-Austen-Is-A-Vampire (and so are Charlotte Bronte and Byron) kind of funny romance. Odd, but good.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Was She Pretty?, by Leanne Shapton

I loved Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry by her so much that I actually bought a copy for myself after I saw the copy I ordered for the library, so clearly, I had to read her earlier book, Was She Pretty?
It was wonderful.
Her line drawings are so emotionally intense, and although parts of the book are very funny, the whole feel of it is almost uncomfortably intimate- I think the drawings feel closer than the photographs used in Important Artifacts.
Each page has a black and white drawing, and a tiny- sometimes really tiny- bit of text that somehow expresses a story that would take other writers/artists hundreds of pages or miles of canvas to tell.
I'm half in love with Leanne Shapton.

Wedding Season, by Katie Fforde

Classic charming Katie Fforde novel. Creative women in creative fields? check. Real-estate porn? Loads. Fantastic sounding food, drink (in moderation, of course!), and lovely sounding clothes? oh yes.
And people are surprised I read this? Hah! Hah to anyone who doesn't know how to kick back and chill with Katie Fforde books. I'm in the mood for a marathon of them, myself!

Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber, by Adele Lang

Although I came across this book while looking for something else entirely, it was a funny frothy bitchy read that I thoroughly enjoyed.


So funny, if incredibly gross!
The Rules
2.The Double Tap
3.Beware of Bathrooms
4.Wear Seat Belts
5.No Attachments
6.The “Skillet”
7.Travel Light
8.Get a Kick Ass Partner
9.With your Bare Hands
10.Don’t Swing Low
11.Use Your Foot
12.Bounty Paper Towels
13.Shake it Off
14.Always carry a change of underwear
15.Bowling Ball
16.Opportunity Knocks
17.Don’t be a hero (later crossed out to be a hero)
18.Limber Up
19.Break it Up
20.It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint
21.Avoid Strip Clubs
22.When in doubt Know your way out
24.Use your thumbs
25.Shoot First
26.A little sun screen never hurt anybody
28.Double-Knot your Shoes
29.The Buddy System
30.Pack your stain stick
31.Check the back seat
32.Enjoy the little things
33.Swiss army Knife

Bride and Prejudice

Really fantastic Bollywood take on Pride and Prejudice, with the stunningly lovely Aishwarya Rai as Lalita, the Elizabeth Bennet character. Made me want to dance and wear saris.

You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, And Their Impact on a Generation, by Susannah Gora

Oddly fascinating book about the making of classic 80's teen films, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and more. The combination of analysis of the movies and great back-story gossip and interviews made it compulsively readable, and it was kind of amazing to realize how huge the impact of those movies on pop culture really has been.

Dead Head, by Rosemary Harris

Fast and fun Dirty Business mystery. Connecticut landscaper Paula Halliday's best client (and friend) Caroline Sturgis has been hiding a past that comes back to haunt her. Supporting characters Babe, Lucy, Mike, etc return, and it was a quick and enjoyable read. Also, if I may just say again, it is so nice to read a mystery where the plants are right, and bloom in the right months. Yay for Rosemary Harris, just for that!

The Carbon Diaries 2017, by Saci Lloyd

Fantastic sequel to the amazing Carbon Diaries 2015. In this book, Laura is studying at University, still trying to keep her band moving towards success, when new government taxes combined with droughts send England, most of Europe, the Middle East, America and Africa to civil war. What I love about these books is how the gritty realities of the headlines play against Laura's 'real life' and how she finds it impossible to not become involved. So good- very much hoping that there'll be a third!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How To Be Good, by Nick Hornby

Re-read for a book group, but I didn't love it any the less this time around.
Doctor Katie Carr has always defined her 'goodness' by the people around her- her absent minded workmate Becca, her husband, The Angriest Man In Holloway (he makes his living writing a bile-filled column for the paper), and by knowing that she, as a GP, at least tries to make a difference. After her husband, David, visits an alternative healer, and makes a sudden about-face in terms of how he lives his life, Katie is adrift, as are their (wonderfully and realistically written) children, Molly and Tom. Fantastic book, this, and made for an excellent, excellent book group discussion title.

"Later, half-asleep, I start to dream about all the people in the world who live bad lives- all the drug dealers and arms manufactures and corrupt politicians, all the cynical bastards everywhere - getting touched by GoodNews and changing like David has changed. The dream scares me. Because I need these people - they serve as my compass. Due south there are saints and nurses and teachers in inner-city schools; due north, there are managing directors of tobacco companies and angry local newspaper columnists. Please don't take my due north away, because then I will be adrift, lost in a land where the things I have done and the things I haven't done really mean something."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Black Cat, by Martha Grimes

Well, I'm always excited about a new Martha Grimes mystery with Richard Jury, Melrose Plant, and the rest, but this one had an awful lot of talking animals. Very dissapointed.

An Education

Wonderful movie. Carey Mulligan was amazing in this, portraying 17 year old Jenny in 1960's suburban London, deciding between life as the girlfriend of glamorous but slightly dodgy David, or to further her education at Oxford. So, so good.

Codes of Gender

Fascinating documentary about how gender roles are defined and portrayed in popular culture. Extra amazing bits included the scenes where male and female models traded roles in iconic advertising imafes,and how jarring the results were. Good, thought provoking movie.

Blood Lure, by Nevada Barr

This was so awful, I am going to break one of my own rules and give a spoiler. The bear did it. Save your time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte

Fantastic, blistering, astonishingly good book. Milo Burke, a depressed fundraiser for a NYC college has just been let go (tough economy, etc), when an old college friend of his own pops up with millions of dollars, the promise to save Milo's crumbling life by providing Milo with the ultimate "ask", and favors to demand that challenge Milo's integrity and sanity. This was an amazing novel, but wildly, tremendously and exhaustingly depressing. Is that enough adjectives? Should there be more?
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

(apologies to T.S. Eliot.)

The Serialist, by David Gordon

This was great, which was so nice, because I've been on a rough patch of books, and this read like a dream. Harry Bloch, struggling genre writer with a batch of psuedonyms and author photographs of friends and relatives, is offered the deal of his dreams- and nightmares. Notorious serial killer Darian Clay offers Harry the exclusive chance to write his death row memoirs, in exchange for Harry meeting and writing short porn stories about the women who write love letters to Darian. This fantastic setup just gets better and tighter towards the end, with some pretty electric writing along the way. The interspersed chapters of some of Harry's genre works added a lot, too- very clever idea, very well done.

Who Moved My Blackberry?, by Lucy Kellaway

Novel told in corporate emails between desperate climber Martin and his wife, mistress, drinking buddy Graham, life-coach Pandora, and everyone else. Pretty funny, not as good as Holly's Inbox for that sort of thing, but quick and with a bit more bite.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley

As annoying as you would expect a collection of short non-fiction pieces by someone named Sloane Crosley to be.
How rich suburban girls suffer, and how wittily they do it! It's a miracle any of them survive. Blurbed by everyone from Jonathan Lethem to A.M. Homes, she's gotta be a pretty popular girl.
Believe it or not, she lives in New York City.

Frog-Raising for Pleasure and Profit and Other Bizarre Books, by Russel Ash and Brian Lake

I cannot find an image of the cover of this book and am frankly too lazy to scan it in. Fun, kind of flip-through book of books about random and strange things, such as Frog Raising For Pleasure and Profit. Some great old covers and titles. Kind of a librarian's nightmare.

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts, by Mark Montano

As the title suggests, this is a big-ass book of crafts. Tons of ideas, including ones that were in the terrible craft book I was working on, so I now feel completely free and absolved of that personal horror. Great book for ideas, projects, etc, but I don't feel the least bit crafty right now.