Thursday, December 29, 2011

Beauty Queens

Libba Bray's Beauty Queens is the story of Miss Teen Dream plane crash survivors. It is a satire of reality tv and big business, mores in society and the political system. A lot of the jabs toward these institutions are blatantly obvious and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments.

"...which was protested by Concerned Citizens of America First for allowing more than ten black people on stage at one time."

"Sexuality is not meant to be this way--an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before. No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion."

"People like to hear your future plans for ovaries."

"Void where prohibited in states where the school board has banned A Tale of Two Cities because Charles Dickens is clearly a pornographic name."

Once their place crashes, the survivors need to find food and water--and continue their pageant preparation routine. They are surprisingly adept at taking care of themselves, building huts, catching fish, and collecting rainwater.

I really loved all the contestants, from Miss Texas Taylor who whole heartedly believed in the pageant mentality to Mary Lou, an at-times reserved Miss Nebraska, to the almost interchangable Miss Alabama and Miss Mississippi winners. But honestly, all of them were fun characters. I think my favorite was Miss Colorado.

One of the things I didn't particularly care for in the novel was the appearance of the reality show pirates. These young men provide love interests for a few of the beauty queens and I thought their addition took away from the real story: the girls realizing that they are strong women. In having these chracters, Bray ventures in to the romantic idea that we must have sexual relationships to have a good book. Unfortunately by doing so it kind of ignores what the rest of the book is about.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wicked Bugs

Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart is a non-fiction book about wicked bugs. The bugs discussed in the books are wicked because they either cause massive property damage or can lead to series medical issues.

The first chapter of Wicked Bugs was offered for free on Audible and I really enjoyed it so I bought the full book. However, I was less impressed with it than I hoped. I had a hard time keeping up with it. I would have done better to read it rather than listen to it.

One of the many things I enjoy about Wyoming is its lack of bugs. Reading Wicked Bugs certainly renewed that feeling. We have mosquitoes, and lots of them, but little else.

If you are afraid of bugs, do not read this book. I am ok around bugs, but parts of it made my skin crawl.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Revolution and A Northern Light

My online book club recently read Revolution and then I saw A Northern Light at the library so I've read two of Jennifer Donnelly's books in the last month or two.

The two books were both young adult novels and about young women going though major life changes.

Revolution is the story of a girl from Brooklyn whose little brother died and then her parents divorced. Her dad moved on and has a new family while her mother is losing control of reality in her grief.

The main character, Andi, travels to Paris with her father and finds a journal from another young women, one who lived during the French Revolution. The book alternates between the present and the past. I love historical fiction books like this.

I liked Revolution, but I had one big problem with how the author dealt with depression. It was really hard for me to listen to Andi in her rage, but that made sense. It showed how Andi's emotions were so strong. What I really really didn't like was how her mother's depression was treated like it was some oh just buck up situation when Andi talks about how she got her mom out of the mental health center and she just needed to paint. I really hate when mental illness is treated as just this you only need to cheer up kinda thing. I'm sure I'm overreacting to this because I'm especially sensitive to the issue.

One part I really loved was Virgil. I wasn't as interested in the romance between him and Andi, but I really liked the insight he provided about the situation of immigrants in present day France. His songs told a lot about his social situation. I also thought the information about the French Revolution was true to history and added a lot to the story.

A Northern Light is a historical fiction story of a woman that dies in a lake at a New York resort in the early 1900s. Mattie, the main character, is an employee at the resident who spoke the dead woman right before she died.

Mattie's growth into a woman through education and how she moves to the the world beyond where she's from are part of the plot . The story is a mystery about the woman's death, but it's also about Mattie's journey.

I definitely recommend both books. I enjoyed the characters and their stories.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Kindle Fire

As soon as Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire, I pre-ordered one. I've had it for a couple weeks and have really enjoyed having it.

One of the reasons I wanted one was the backlit screen. Evan goes to sleep earlier than I do most nights and he doesn't like the light on. I don't sit at a computer all day so the back light doesn't bother me.

It doesn't hurt to have Angry Birds, facebook, and goodreads apps on it either!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Not much going on around here today. I got a Kindle Fire (more info to come) so Evan's picked up my other Kindle and has been glued to the Hunger Games series the past couple days. He's cuddling with our foster dog, Bella.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: There's not much better than a cuddly dog and a good book.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shit My Dad Says

I thought I would find this funny in a college frat boy sort of way, but I thought it was much more than that. It was a family memoir and Halpern's dad's love for his son is apparent. Funny, but also genuine and loving. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amazing Grace

I found this at my library book sale. I was really interested in it because of the blurb on the front: "A chick lit grand slam." I love YA chick lit.

Sadly, I was disappointed by this. I hoped that it was going to be along the lines of a Sarah Dessen novel, but it wasn't near as good.

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull is about a young tennis phenom who wants out of the craziness of being a media star. She hides out in Alaska, where she meets a new best friend and a love interest, while growing up a bit. The plot was a bit far-fetched by having the main character landing in Alaska.

I gave it 3 stars on goodreads, but it's more of a 2.5 stars book. It's definitely not a grand slam.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Thousand Lives

Wow. This was fascinating. I bought the audiobook, which was 11 hours long, and listened to it over two days. I couldn't stop listening to it. It was fascinating.

A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres is about Jim Jones and the massacre at Jonestown in 1978. Over 900 people were killed/committed suicide under the direction of Jones. An audio file of the last minutes survived and people can be heard fighting giving their children the poison while Jones and his leaders talked about how everything was fine and that they shouldn't worry. A number of people had injection marks, leading the medical examining team to believe that they were killed rather than had willingly taken the kool-aid. (This is where the term "drank the kool-aid" originates.)

Jones began his church in Indiana in the 1950s as a integrated, welcoming group, but increasingly became in to a cult. People followed Jones from Indiana to northern California to San Francisco and finally to Jonestown, Guyana in South America. Once in Jonestown, Jones descended into to a drug induced fantasy land and his followers suffered. To someone reading the book today, I think it's easy to say WTH about the people that followed Jones. But, the author talks about how it's easy for us to dismiss Jonestown while instead we should be examining how Jones was so successful at getting people to believe in him to the extent of killing themselves.

The whole incident was so horrifying. It's hard to imagine what the residents of Jonestown thought as things worsened. The book says that the 45 minute audio of the final minutes of Jonestown are online and can be listened to. It was difficult enough hearing (audio book, remember?) the bits that the author quoted.

If you're interested in Jonestown at all or just like non-fiction, you should definitely read this. Incidently, you are reading my review on the 33rd anniversary of the event.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

It Is Well with My Soul

It is Well with My Soul is a memoir by Ella Mae Cheeks Johnson about her long 106 year life. Johnson gained attention in 2008 when she attended Obama's Inauguration. Evan and I also attended the inauguration and were on the same plane as Johnson. We sat in the row behind her as people around us asked her questions about life and her thoughts on Obama. For me, it was a really cool way of starting out our trip, thinking about this black woman who had seen so many changes in society that lead her to where she was that day.

The book was very short, but was interesting considering the wide time span it covered. It focused a lot on her life rather than what she saw in society. It was enjoyable, but I would have been a bit disappointed by it had I not met her because I would have preferred the book to have discussed Johnson's reflections on changes she saw in the the US through the many events she experienced.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Gulag Archipelago

Yes, that does say abridged. Despite being an abridged version of The Gulag Archipelago, the book I read still had 500+ pages. for years, I've been thinking that I needed to read The Gulag Archipelago, but I never got around to it since it's such a beast. When I found this edition, I picked it up and had no more excuses.

The Gulag Archipelago was written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn spent time in the Soviet gulags (work camps) because he spoke against Stalin. Many others were in the gulags for no real reason- a family member had made negative comments about Stalin, someone had been tricked or tortured in to falsely accusing them of some offense.

The stories Solzhenitsyn tells speak about how the gulags are horrible. One of the saddest parts, though there were too many to count, was the story of WW2 veterans who were sent to the gulags becuase they had been taken as POWs by the Germans instead of fighting to the death. Life in the gulags was extremely difficult and millions of people died from overwork, starvation, or preventable diseases.

It was a long hard read, but very worthwhile to spend time on. Stalin was truly evil. His people suffered so much under his rule.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Overdue Library Books

I love Pearls Before Swine, this comic. Love, love, love.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On my TBR short list

I've got several classics high on my TBR list.

The Virginian by Owen Wister

The Virginian is set just down the road. It's one of those books that I feel as a Wyomingite, I need to read.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

And, for when I'm feeling really motivated: The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I have good intentions with it, but it'll probably sit on my shelf for years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Letter of a Woman Homesteader

There are a number of books that I feel like I need to read as a Wyomingite. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart was one of those books.

Letters of a Woman Homesteader is not a novel or memoir, it's the actual letters Stewart wrote to a friend after she moved to western Wyoming in the early 1900s. The letters tell the story of her arrival and subsequent years. For me, the book was kind of slow. However, I highlighted line after line because so much of what Elinore wrote spoke to me. (yay for Kindle highlighting!)

"The quaking aspens were just beginning to turn yellow; everywhere the purple asters were a blaze of glory except where the rabbit-bush grew in clumps, waving its feathery plumes of gold. Over it all, the sky was so deeply blue, with little, airy, white clouds drifting lazily along."

"All westerns are likable, with the possible exception of Greasy Pete."

"I can think of nothing that would give me more happiness than to bring the west and its people to others who could not otherwise enjoy them. If I could only take them from whatever is worrying them and give them this bracing mountain air, glimpses of the scenery, the smell of the pines and sage."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Day the World Came to Town

I'm not sure how I stumbled upon The Day the World Came to Town, but I'm glad I did. I've had it on my shelf for awhile, and finally picked it up for the 10 year anniversary of September 11th.

This year I didn't watch any of the tv coverage, though I did read some stories and look at pictures on the internet. I really didn't want to bring back all the sadness. So why would I pick up a book about 9/11 you ask.

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede was about 9/11, but a good side-- how the people in Newfoundland, Canada came together to help people whose planes were grounded survive a few days marooned in the Atlantic.

When the US closed airspace because of the attacks, planes flying into the US were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland. Residents of Gander and surrounding towns opend up their homes and helped in every way imaginable to host the stranded travelers.

The Day the World Came to Town was a heart warming piece of the larger tragedy of 9/11. It was nice to read this as a way to remember that day instead of watching the towers fall on tv over and over again. It's definitely worth picking up, though save it for next Sept 11 when you need to see some good in people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I heard of Speak from my online book club. I had seen it on banned book lists, Recently Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was challenged because some idiot (I'm editorializing) said the rape scene from the book was pornographic. At the time I tuned it out as another moron spouting off about YA books. I figured I should read it to see what all the love and hatred of the book was about.

Upon reading the book, I was even more appalled than before. Speak is the story of a teenage girl's year after having been raped. The story is heartbreaking, how this teenager is falling apart because of her experience. While I thought the ending was a bit far-fetched, I really enjoyed (as much as you can about a book of depression and rape) it.

I think this is a must-read for anyone who works with teenagers. I'm including that moron who said it was pornographic. Maybe he'd get some clue if he actually read the book.

Happy Banned Books week!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Three Cups of Deceit

I grabbed this when Krakauer posted the free PDF on the magical world wide web. (Seriously, have you guys of it? Wonderful.)

Three Cups of Deceit is about Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. In his books, Mortenson talks of a program he started in Pakistan to build schoolhouses. Krakauer details lie after lie from Mortenson: how Mortenson uses money from the foundation to purchase his books so they will stay on the bestseller lists, how many of the schools don't actually exist, how Mortenson's story of being held by the Taliban is baloney.

This book upset me because I felt hoodwinked by Mortenson. I read Three Cups of Tea a couple years ago and enjoyed and felt inspired by it. Though, Three Cups of Tea is terribly written.

If you've read Mortenson's books, you really need to pick this up. I think you'll be shocked by everything Mortenson has done. If you haven't read Three Cups of Tea, I think Krakauer does a good job of explaining things that it'd still be worth your while to pick Three Cups of Deceit up. It's really short, about 75 pages, so it's a quick read.

Friday, September 23, 2011


"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me."
-Alice Roosevelt Longworth

This is all I knew about Alice Roosevelt Longworth before I read Alice. Based off that quote, I thought I'd love Alice (the person).

is a New York Times notable book. Alice Roosevelt was one of the first big celebrites in America. The media followed her as much as her father, Theodore Roosevelt. This biography follows her entire life. It also talked a lot about her family.

I really enjoyed this biography because of the connection Alice had with so many people of the 1900s. I've picked up a couple biographies of some of the people Alice was acquainted with.

Surprisingly I didn't like Alice as a person as much as I thought I would. I didn't agree with some of her politics and she just didn't seem like someone I'd want to be friends with. I really enjoyed the book even though I didn't enjoy its main character as I had expected to.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Borders Haul

We don't have a Borders near, but we were in Colorado over the weekend and I got to pick up some sale books. All were 80 or 90% off.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011, so far

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Spark by John Ratey

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The House at Riverton
by Kate Morton

The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Review coming soon, I hope.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I love Yellowstone, so when I saw Faithful in the bookstore, I snapped it up. Faithful is a young adult historical fiction novel set in Yellowstone in the early 1900s.
Maggie, the main character, travels to Yellowstone with her father to search for her mother who is missing. Once in the park, Maggie's life changes significantly when she meets Tom, the son of the park geologist. Maggie has to grow up quite a bit during her time in Yellowstone. Her high place in society back home in Newport, RI is gone and she must accept the new reality she's faced with.

The novel covers a lot of Yellowstone's early history and seemed overall very evocative of the park. Another historical fiction book set in the same time and place is Letters from Yellowstone by Diane Smith. It is not YA.

I really enjoyed Faithful, but I think part of it is that I love Yellowstone so much. If you haven't been, you must add it to your to do before I die list. Evan and I were there in May. Pictures here, here, and here. It's a place like no other.

Faithful is the first in a new series which annoys me to no end. I'm getting really sick of young adult books being parts of series. Hardly any of them seem to be stand alones. I sometimes just want to read a book, enjoy it for it, and not have to feel like I have to pick up the next one to get the whole story.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Liar Society

When The Liar Society was published a few months ago, there was a big blitz on book blogs about it. I was really excited to read it. I thought the murder mystery set in an elite private school would be right up my league. However, I was a little disappointed.

I read Shine right after it so I think comparing the two stories of high schoolers trying to solve crimes ran together too much and I thought Shine was a better book.

As a private school graduate I found this line oh so true and so funny:

"It was a source of endless fascination to see how incestuous the school really was. I mean, it couldn't be normal to have hundreds of couples graduate from the same prep school and eventually marry, right? I think they put something in water."

The Liar Society is the first in a series. It's a good book for those looking for a strong female main character. I will probably read the next in the series.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country is so beautiful. I have had it on my shelf for a long time. I like reading about Africa so I knew I should read it, but kept not picking it up.

Luckily, I finally did. Cry, the Beloved Country is set in South Africa during the 1940s. At this time, society in South Africa was very unequal. Blacks in South African society had so little in comparison to whites.

Cry, the Beloved Country is about a young black man who kills a white husband and father in racially charged South Africa. The story follows the men's fathers in the aftermath of the crime.

Some might find the the moral of the story a bit heavy handed, but I thought it was beautiful.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


the poli sci textbook i use

I've been super busy with school starting. I'm going to take some time this weekend and lose myself in a book (or two) to calm down and hopefully get some book reviews finished.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting for You

I've been on a real YA kick lately, so I've been trying to find more YA authors I enjoy. I recently read Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti. Waiting for You is the story of a teen girl's love life and family life.

Marisa, the main character, deals with renewing and maintaining old friendships, a first boyfriend, and her parents' break-up.

I listened to the audio version of Waiting for You and it seemed to drag. It is about 7 hours long and about 3.5 hours in, I looked at my phone (love audible's android app) and was shocked to see I was only that far. It really dragged. The last couple hours picked up, but I never got caught up in the story.

I'll try another book by Colasanti, but it'll be one I check out from the library, not one I buy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Provenance is the story of widespread art fraud in the 1980s and 90s. Two men, John Myatt and John Drewe, perpetrated what Scotland Yard called the biggest art fraud in the 20th century. Drewe recruited Myatt, a talented painter, to create paintings that appeared to be from famous artists. Drewe created provenances, documents proving authenticity of works of art, to go with each of the fraudulent painting. Drewe then sold the works earning millions of pounds in the fraud.

When I finished this book, all I could think was, "Who says crime doesn't pay?" Myatt and Drewe served short sentences. Myatt is now a famous painter in his own right who sells his works for thousands of pounds. The book talks about a fire that Drewe is suspected of setting in which a woman died, but they don't have enough evidence. I felt like the men didn't have to atone for their crimes. I certainly thought Drewe was the bad guy in the story, but am uncomfortable with how Myatt has been able to profit from his notoriety.

I learned a lot about the art market. It was remarkable to me how Drewe was able to worm his way into prestigious art collections and doctor their archives. His con artist skills were outstanding.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale

Stop what you are doing and go read this book.

I was serious. Go read this book, then you can come back and goof around on the internet.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a book that I've heard people rave about for years. I have this thing about dystopian books so it wasn't on the top of my list. I read it for the seasonal online challenge for the category of a Canadian author. It was a great example of how the book challenge gets you to read things you might not otherwise pick up.

The Handmaid's Tale is set in an alternate future where a conservative Christian group has taken over society and the environment has been severely degradated. The laws in society divide women up into different categories. The narrator is a handmaid whose job it is to produce children. Handmaids are not allowed to read and are only allowed out of the house once a day.

There were so many things to love about The Handmaid's Tale: the idea that such a society isn't that remote of an idea, the writing, and the ending. I won't say anything about the end, other than it was brilliant. Freaking brilliant.

This was one of the best, if not the best, books I've read this year. It's one of the best books I've ever read.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


This was a sale book on audible so I picked it up at Evan's urging. "You need to exercise more. Buy that one." And after reading Spark, I will definitely be exercising more.

Spark talks about how exercise improves your brain: helps learning, fights depression, even postpones dementia. Spark goes far beyond the idea of a runner's high and talks about what happens in the brain due to exercise. It was fascinating.

If you need motivation to exercise, Spark is going to give it to you. I listened to the audio book. I left it on my ipod for when I need a reminder about getting off my butt and getting moving. But, mainly, when I'm feeling stressed (which is happening more often since school is drawing close) I just need to get out and move. It's good for me in so many different ways.

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Nation Under Dog

My name is kenpen. I am a crazy dog person.

This book seemed very fitting. One Nation Under Dog is about the rise of the pet as a family member and the corresponding rise in the amount of money that is spent on pets.

My family (me, my husband, two bassets, and a cat) certainly fits within the average family in terms of pets in contemporary society. My dogs are my kids. They sleep in the bed with me. I tell them bless you when they sneeze. We buy them expensive quality dog food.

Nothing in One Nation Under Dog was too surprising to me, but still told astonishing tales of very crazy dog people. One of the sections talked about grief groups for pet owners, how their grief is viewed as odd or not as accepted as grief for a family member. I thought this was of special interest since I'd felt that way when Duncan, our old dog, died. The book also talked about high cost medical treatment for pets. I don't think twice about taking the animals to the vet, but definitely wait for myself.

If you are a dog lover like me, I think you'd like One Nation Under Dog. If you aren't a dog person, I think you'd read this and think what the heck?!

Don't they look spoiled?

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I loved Shine. Loved.

I think Lauren Myracle is a very cool person, so I was prepared to love it and was thankfully not disappointed.

Shine is the story of a teenager trying to solve the mystery of who severely beat her gay friend. The sheriff and town don't seem too concerned about the crime so Cat, the main character, sets out to find out who did it.

Shine is set in a rural southern town, a place that is struggling with drugs, a lack of jobs, and the belief from outsiders that they are just a bunch of "mountain niggers." The book is set in Transylvania County, NC, which is a real place. The specific town in the novel doesn't exist. My parents have a house in the mountains in Transylvania County, so I was really interested in reading this book.

Photo taken down the hill from my parents' place:
Complete with trailer, confederate flag, ex-con owner, and mean ass dog.

E and I visited my parents' place earlier this summer and I read Shine while I was there. My parents don't stay at the house full-time and right before we got there someone kicked in the front door and stole all the alcohol. The person they were pretty sure did it was an alcoholic with no job and a criminal history (not the guy who lives down the hill.) So the real side of this small town with lax law enforcement was very much what we were experiencing. I could picture the story in the exact setting.

I loved Shine. I am sure my biased view helped, but I thought it was a wonderful book. I thought it was a great mystery with lots of insight to many social issues.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The House on Mango Street

I enjoyed The House on Mango Street, but I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't read it right after reading The Frozen Thames.

Both are short stories and both are worth the read. The House on Mango Street is vignettes from a young girl's year living in a house on Mango Street, a poor area of Chicago.

Some of the passages are so beautiful.

"People who live on hills sleep so close to the stars they forget those of us who live too much on earth."

"She [her grandmother] looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best of what she got or was she sorry she couldn't be the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review-a-thon

Lovely Little Shelf is doing a catch up on your reviews Review-a-thon August 14-20. I have at least 10 reviews in progress, so I thought I'd join and hopefully get some of them done.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Daughters of Juarez

Juarez, Mexico has serious crime and drug issues. It has one of the highest murder rates in the world. The Daughters of Juarez focuses on one portion of the crime in the area: the unsolved killings of young women. Over the years hundreds of women have been killed. Many of them have been raped and mutilated.

After I read the book, I felt stunned. How in the world is the government and police so corrupt that this has happened? I am appalled by what has happened. I know everything our government does isn't right, but good heavens. Hundreds of women have died and the officials in Juarez have purposely ignored the problem.

The book's writing wasn't that outstanding. I would even say it wasn't that good. But, the story itself is so unbelievable that it's worth the read. It's pretty horrifying how poor women are treated in this area of Mexico.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Luv Ya Bunches

Luv Ya Bunches is first in a children's series by Lauren Myracle. I picked it up when I heard her speak last year. Her ttyl series has been challenged, as well as books from the Luv Ya Bunches series.

Myracle was told if she changed the story so one of the main characters had a mom and a dad instead of two moms, Scholastic book fairs (the ones in schools across the country) would sell the book. If not, the book wouldn't be included. Myracle stuck firm and her book was not carried. I thought this was SO COOL. Based on the prevalence of the book fairs, not having her book included certainly had a impact on the money in her pocket.

The story follows four girls who meet and become friends. The story is told from each of the girls'' perspectives through IMs, emails, etc. I thought it was super cute. The girls each have some aspect that they are concerned about: the girl whose mom is in a mental hospital, the girl who is Muslim, etc. These issues are dealt with matter of factly.

If I had a kid (besides my dogs, of course), this is the kind of book I'd love for her to read.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Wither is a young adult dystopian story. (Is it just me or are they all dystopian these days?) Anyhow, I watched a vlog by Lauren DeStefano and thought she was hilarious. My library had Wither as a downloadable audio book so I checked it out.

Wither is set in a world where girls die at age 20 and boys at 25. Scientists are working to find a cure, but in the meanwhile, each new generation dies off very early.

In Wither, Rhine is kidnapped to be a bride for Linden, son of a very wealthy and important man. Rhine is a virtual prisoner at her husband's estate. Her father in law, Vaughn, is older and is not infected with the virus that is killing off society's young. He is working on a cure, but Rhine is suspicious of how he's going about his research. Rhine is also concerned about her twin brother. She has no way of contacting him to let him know she's still alive.

Rhine spends most of the book plotting her escape from Linden and Vaughn's house. Her relationship with her sister wives was really interesting.

I enjoyed Wither, but I'm glad I was able to check it out from the library instead of buying it. I will be interested to read the next book in the trilogy to see where the story goes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Awesome Book Blog

I'm in love with Awful Library Books, a blog about library book that should have been culled years ago. We get lots of these types of books as donations to the book sale. In fact, I saw one of the books posted when I was volunteering the other day. I will find some good ones to share with you. In the meanwhile, check out the blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Sale Photos

We had a book sale a couple weeks ago. I took these pictures before the sale.


Young Adult:
I started this section. YA books were all over the place, so I wanted to put the current ones in a good place so they could actually be found. I think it did pretty well. As you can see, there wasn't a lot. The next sale isn't until November, so it will be interesting to see what shows up before then.

Dollar fiction books on the left, dollar non-fiction on the right:

We raised about $5250 during the four day sale.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of those books that is so inspiring. I have enjoyed Michael Pollan's books about food, so I wasn't surprised to enjoy Kingsolver's addition to the genre.

Last summer, Evan and I got a CSA share and drowned in the amount of food we received. This year we decided not to do it, but our local farmers' market will be starting soon so we can buy local veggies at it. My dad has had a garden for more years than I've been around and I've been experimenting in my own. I was interested to read about Kingsolver's gardening.

Kingsolver's book is a memoir about how her family ate local for a year. This included meat. They were living on a family farm and were able to grow a significant amount of food, both for immediate use and to store for the winter. They also bought food at their farmers' market.

One of the criticisms of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that I read before reading the book said that Kingsolver's experience was totally unrealistic and that she was preachy about it. To say it is unrealistic totally misses the point. Obviously we don't all live on a farm and can't grow food like she was able to. Duh. I've read plenty of memoirs, most commonly travel memoirs that are totally unrealistic for me, but are still fun to read about and put ideas in my head. This book made me think about what I could do. I didn't think Kingsolver was preachy. She laid information out in a clear, readable way.

I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It was inspiring. If you are interested in food, you should pick it up.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Carl Hiaasen's books are pretty funny. If you haven't read one, they are a great light, fast read. I recently read Flush, which is one of Hiaasen's children's books.
Hiaasen's books are all set in Florida. They are pretty unique. The novels are humorous, no, laugh out loud funny, mysteries that deal with environmental issues. They are great beach books.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Sand County Almanac

Evan had to read A Sand County Almanac in college in an American Studies class so we've had the book sitting around for years. It's been one of those books I thought, "I should read that." I finally got around to it.

A Sand County Almanac is a book of reflections from naturist Aldo Leopold from his farm in Wisconsin. It is one of the major environmental writings of the twentieth century.

I wasn't overwhelmed with it. I don't know why I didn't like it, but it certainly didn't grab me like Silent Spring, another famous environmental book. I finished it only because I felt I should. I think that I'm going to read some John Muir next. I hope that I enjoy it more.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon spoke at the University and my friend Melissa and I went. It was so fun!

She was so funny. I read Outlander and wasn't totally in love with it like so many of my NBC friends, but it was still definitely worth going to see her. She read an excerpt from #8 in the Outlander series and everyone was laughing. She walked in behind a bagpiper!

It was a great turnout. Hopefully it won't be too long before we get another author in town!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Boyfriend List

I really liked this book. Really really liked it.

In The Boyfriend List, the main character, Ruby, is seeing a psychiatrist because she's been having panic attacks.

Her doctor has asked her to make a list of boyfriends, which is really a list of boys that played a role in her life whether they were boyfriends or not. She goes through her list of guys and her story unfolds.

I felt myself identifying with Ruby and her feelings about the end of her relationship with Jackson. It brought back some long forgotten feelings from my own high school boyfriend. Seriously, I wish someone had put this book in my hands the second that relationship ended. (Of course that would have been impossible since the book was written years after all that, but you get my point.)

I thought the ending was perfect. I thought it fit the story so well and showed a lot of growth on Ruby's part. The Boyfriend List is the first in a series, but stands alone well. As much as I liked it, I am not sure I want to read any more of the series. I thought this book was perfection and am afraid the next books may lessen that feeling. (Hopefully that makes sense.)

I have The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by Lockhart as well. It's got great reviews and received Prinz honor award so I bet it will be awesome too.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Decade of the Wolf

One of my friends teaches public speaking and one of the assignments in her class (and probably every public speaking class) is a persuasive speech. She no longer allows students to speak on why wolves should be banned from Yellowstone. (Many many Wyomingites are upset about the whole thing.) Prior to her ban on the topic, she'd have several students in each class give the same speech. I can imagine you can only hear that speech, or any speech, so many times.

Wolf politics aren't of interest to me, even though they are an issue here in Wyoming. Decade of the Wolf isn't about the politics. It's about the process of introducing the wolves and the first ten years of the wolves in the park.

Before I read this book, I knew that wolves had been reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995 and that they were from Canada and that was about all I knew.

Decade of the Wolf talks about the people and events related to the wolves. I learned how they introduced the wolves into the park and how they monitor their activity. Despite much opposition, there have also been thousands (and thousands) that have been thrilled by seeing wolves in Yellowstone.

Having wolves back in the park has changed the park in both flora and fauna. Most of the wolves diet is elk. As the wolves have eaten the elk and consequently lowered their numbers, willow trees are able to grow (instead of being eaten by elk.)The willows have encouraged beavers. The ecology of Yellowstone has been improving since the wolves returned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Between the Lines

I was browsing amazon's selection of young adult kindle books and found Between the Lines. It was 99 cents and had good reviews so I bought it.

Between the Lines is told in alternating narration between Reid, a teen heartthrob, and Emma, his costar in the movie they are both working on. At first observation, Between the Lines appears to be about Reid and Emma's growing relationship, but it has other plot lines (Emma's relationship with her father and her relationship with her bff) that added to the story.

I liked Webber's portrayal of the characters even though I personally didn't like all of them. I thought they seemed like real people.

Between the Lines is a bit racier than a lot of young adult fiction, but it wasn't graphic. One of the pearl-clutching reviews on goodreads comments how for a book about 17-18 year olds there was a lot of drinking and the book centered around sex. Let me repeat that: 17-18 year olds and sex and drinking. Shocking.

Between the Lines was definitely worth the 99 cents I paid for it. There's a sequel coming out this fall, which I will definitely pick up. It will be interesting to see where Webber takes the characters. I think Emma's on a great path so I hope that it continues in the next book. I can lend it if anyone wants to borrow it for their kindle.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bike Snob

Between the two of us, my husband and I own 11 bicycles. Three of them are mine. I might own one bike if I wasn't married to my husband.

My husband reads the Bike Snob's blog and picked up his book as soon as it was published. He wanted to me to read it. My husband is definitely a bike snob. However, Bike Snob's book is not snobby. It's very accessible to people who aren't that familiar with bikes.

It's a quick read if you are interested in bikes.