Saturday, June 30, 2012
Crosley is an excellent essayist and also reads her work on the audio version of this book. The stories in this collection range from college age to close to present day. Her earlier book (if memory serves me here) focused more on her childhood. Not all of her stories are funny but all have a sense of humor and keep you wanting to read or listen. I look forward to her next book.
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I'm a fan of A.J. Jacobs and have read two of his other books. This one is along the same lines...research a topic and then try to implement what you find. This time his focus is health. Although the subtitle talks about bodily perfection, it isn't really the goal...just being more healthy and living a better life in terms of extending life by taking care of yourself. Each month for two years A. J. focuses on one aspect of health. Some of the months are better than others. Along the way you get his commentary and notes on his life and family. His wife Julie is certainly a gem and his 3 kids are in the adorable stage...I wonder how his writing will change when those kids become troublesome teens. I am interested in some of the areas of focus in this book...living a quiet life (avoiding noise pollution), the treadmill desk and taking particular care of your hands are all interesting chapters that I did not expect. Looking forward to the next topic of A.J.'s focus.
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Friday, June 29, 2012
Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is wildly popular. Up to this point I hadn't bothered with them. I finally decided to see what the hoopla was all about. I can understand why people like them so much although I'm not that impressed. There is lots of action, bad guys, and mystery. But the stupidity of the main character turned me off. In this first book, Plum loses her job and ends up working as a bounty hunter for her bail bondsman cousin (without a reliable car, familiarity with guns, knowledge of procedures...). She ends up on the hunt for and then partnering with an old nemesis while tangling with a sadistic boxer named. If you want a book with lots of action, by all means, go for this series. If you like a little more depth in your characters and plots look elsewhere.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
In the 1500s Thomas Cromwell was of lowborn birth, the son of a blacksmith who beat him often and viciously. Thomas left home as a teen and traveled to the continent to fight as a mercenary, ultimate traveling throughout the Europe of the time, learning multiple languages, and studying law. He became an assistant to Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey and, upon Wolsey's death, became one of Henry VIII's trusted advisors. Cromwell played and important part in the negotiations involving the king's attempts to divorce Queen Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn and the later difficulties with Thomas More's refusal to acknowledge Anne as queen. Cromwell's rise to power and riches are the main subject of this novel.
It's unusual to have a book that focuses on someone other than Henry, his queens, and heirs. This book is packed with an overabundance of characters which makes the conversations confusing at times especially in the audiobook version. It is sometimes hard to know who exactly is speaking when "he said" is used again and again. The title is also a bit misleading since Wolf Hall is not the home of Cromwell but the residence of the family of young Jane Seymour, a lady in waiting at court, and future wife of Henry VIII. Jane plays only a small part in this book. However, the sequel to this book is about the downfall of Anne Boleyn and rise of Jane Seymour. The author won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for this book in 2009.
Who doesn't have a terrible family vacation story to share? Well, that isn't this book. Although siblings Richard and Angela have not been close, they decide to rent a house and vacation together with their families after their mother dies. Suffice it to say everyone involved has issues except maybe 8 year old Benjy who is just having a good time. This book follows the vacation for a week and the relationships among those in the house.
The authors previous book "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time" stuck me as brilliant. This one, not so much. But maybe it is just me. I didn't want to stop reading but it seems rather ordinary and I was hoping for more.
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Monday, June 25, 2012
Who knew the Oscar Wilde wrote fairy tales? I saw volume five on the new book cart, and had to check it out. My library had volume four as well, but I may have to ILL the remaining volumes.
Wilde's fairy tales remind me strongly of Hans Christen Anderson's stories: beautiful and poetic, but sad (as opposed to what I think of as the more organic fairy tales--those by the Brothers Grimm). In volume four, we get a story about true friendship, in which a kind soul is taken advantage of by a greedy neighbor who claims to be his friend. It's the second story in this volume, "The Nightingale and the Rose," though, that is the tear-jerker: a nightingale slowly kills herself to give a lovesick student a red rose for his beloved. The fifth volume builds from here: the statue of the Happy Prince begs a passing swallow to carry his jeweled eyes and gold leaf to the poor of the city, until the Price is so plain-looking that he is melted down and tossed away.
Russell's adaptations are perfect, and I look forward to reading more of these.
When she first started appearing in films I was not a big fan of Sissy Spacek. It wasn't until much later that I learned to appreciate her talent and her rejection of the "Hollywood Lifestyle." The book begins a bit of family history and her childhood in a small town in East Texas and continues through to her idyllic life in Virginia with her husband of 38 years, movie art director, Jack Fisk. Spacek is generous in acknowledging family and friends who have helped her along the way including her cousin Rip Torn and his wife Geraldine Page, directors Terrance Malek and David Lynch, and many others. While including plenty of humorous anecdotes about her life and career Spacek doesn't gloss over the bad times. Her story of Loretta Lynn coercing her to play in "Coal Miner's Daughter" is great. While she doesn't talk about every film she made I wish she had said more about "'Night, Mother." When Spacek and her husband left L.A. for a Virginia farm the press concluded that she had retired from acting. Instead she chose to become more selective about the films she made while giving her two beautiful daughters a carefree childhood that was similar to what she had growing up. This book is well written and a very interesting look at an intelligent, talented woman.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Russian immigrant teenager, Anya, is trying hard to just be an American teenager. She is suffering from all the usual teenage angst about her appearance, lack of popularity, crushes, etc. Her mother is too caught up in the ways of her old country. After an argument with her best friend, Anya goes for a walk in the park and falls down an abandoned well. She is shocked to find a skeleton there and even more surprised by the presence of the ghost of a teenage girl. Anya is rescued but ends up taking a small piece of bone and the ghost with her. At first the ghost is friendly and helpful but things are not as they seem. Anya ends up learning a lot about herself and her strengths during the course of her good/bad encounter with the ghost.
Alison Bechdel won tons of awards for Fun Home, her graphic novel about her father. In this book, she tackles her relationship with her mother, her experiences with analysts, and the works of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott. Bechdel's mother was an actress who stifled her career to raise her children while coping with a marriage to a gay man who ultimately committed suicide. The book mainly focuses on Bechdel herself and her conflicted feelings toward the emotionally distant mother who told her she was too old for kisses at age seven. After awhile Bechdel's internal conflicts get repetitive and tiresome. Disappointing.
I'll admit I'm not much one for art books (too heavy and unwieldy, generally speaking). But when this book of Banksy's clever graffiti antics came across my desk as an ILL, I had to check it out. The book is filled with images of Banksy's work, including the works he added to world-famous museums, as well as some of Banksy's thoughts on creating graffiti art (he uses overpasses because the bills of security guard and police hats prevents their wearers from easily noticing things that high). Really, this was a fascinating read, especially in light of how little is actually known about the artist/criminal. Definitely worth perusing.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Now this is my kind of book. A little "behind the scenes" politics that helps explain some history that you may already know. The relationships of presidents to the FORMER presidents is intriguing when you find out what they say about each other, who is the rogue who can't really be trusted on international missions, and how much they like each other. Most of us can understand that this is a difficult job but nobody understands it more than someone who has been in your shoes. I'm ready for this fraternity to go co-ed but still loved reading about the relationships from Hoover to Obama.
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This book started out with so much potential to be creepy, I almost put it down. The first chapter includes a young man getting his hand cut off by thugs and it seems to be going down hill quite quickly from there. Despite my original reservations, I stuck with it and ended up liking the book a lot. Many people who are pretending to be other people made it a little hard to follow at times and in the end you expect the big "reveal" but don't quite figure out what it will be. I listened to this on audio which made it difficult to back up and reconnect the dots but ended up being very satisfied with an interesting and twisty plot.
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A fun book of illustrated "missed connections" which are messages on the internet from people who want to reconnect with other people that they don't really know but feel like they shared a connection somewhere. Lots are people who saw each other on the subway or maybe even exchanged some words but didn't get contact information. Blackall's drawings are delightful and this is a fun little book.
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Rowland and Paine are two schoolboys who died almost a century apart. Now, due to a technicality, they're stuck on earth as ghosts, and making the most of their time before Death tracks them down. Now, they've been summoned to Chicago by the wealthy and beautiful Annika to track down her missing roommate at her prestigious all girls school.
As a rule, I'll read just about anything that claims to be a Sandman tie-in. I've also heard Neil Himself endorse Thompson's work, so I thought I'd give this a try. Unfortunately, this was a bit more of a stretch than I could manage. For those unfamiliar with Gaiman's epic comic series, Rowland and Paine only appear in one issue, but it's one of the creepiest issues in the entire run, and definitely one of the most memorable. Both attended the same boarding school, where they are tormented by bullies. In Paine's case, he was eventually murdered on campus; Rowland died almost a century later, killed by the ghosts of another set of bullies. Their story is dark and brutal and terrifying, so it's more than a little jarring to be thrust into a bright and bubbly, slapstick world of this manga. The tone was just too zany for me to reconcile with my main idea of these characters.
This is the third (and final?) book in the Curse Workers series. I think I liked this one the best of all. Cassel Sharpe, the rarest kind of curse worker, has been recruited by a special department of the FBI that uses curse workers. Cassel's mother has disappeared after her attempts at stopping the anti-curse worker governor of New Jersey backfires. Lila, the love of Cassel's life, has become a full-time operative in her father's criminal empire. Sam, Cassel's best friend and boarding school roommate is entrenched in his own love troubles. With all this in his life Cassel has to deal with a worker girl/classmate who says she is being blackmailed but is probably working a con, find the Resurrection Diamond that his mother stole from a crime lord, try to get Lila back, help Sam get back together with his girlfriend, and work out how to protect himself against the Feds who have ordered him to participate in a con of their own. He has to accomplish all this while trying not to get kicked out of high school where he has only one demerit left before expulsion. The last part of the story contains quite a few twists, although the very end was pretty much what I thought it would be. The ending leaves an opening for further books if Black decides to expand the beyond a trilogy.
Monday, June 18, 2012
Kelsier has just escaped from the harshest prison in the Empire, and he's determined to get revenge--and for him, revenge means killing the Lord Ruler, and destroying the Final Empire. Kelsier is a Mistborn--one who can draw power from different metals--and his rare abilities mean that he might be able to pull off his plan. Then he meets Vin, a common thief who shows Mistborn abilities of her own, and suddenly their crew has a real chance at success.
I've had half a dozen people tell me to read this series, and after Warbreaker, I was only too happy to dive back into Sanderson's writing. This story starts out as a crime novel--you have the different players in the crew, and each one has a role to play in what may be the biggest scam in history. But as the book moves along, and twist after twist interferes with the plan, it becomes a really complex story about loyalty and class issues. The world-building is amazing: a thousand years after a legendary battle between the immortal Lord Ruler and the mysterious Deepness, the sky is red, ashes fall like rain, and no one can see the stars. But there is allomancy--the ability to consume a few specific types of metal, and "burn" them for their magical properties (manipulating emotions, moving objects towards, and seeing the future, to name a few). Reading Vin's education in allomancy was half the fun of this book.
The characters are wonderfully drawn, the funny parts are funny, and the scary parts are really, really scary (I had nightmares about the Steel Inquisitors towards the end of this book). As he did in Warbreaker, Sanderson plays with the idea of divinity: what does it take for a man to be worshipped as a god? What would that do to a person? Of course, there's more to it than that, and there are plenty of loose ends to lead into the next novel (already on request).
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I loved Divergent, and I'm happy to say that Insurgent doesn't disappoint. It's a bit jarring at the beginning, as Roth simply picks up where Divergent left off, with no exposition for you to find your bearings. But Insurgent grabs you and doesn't let go, just like its predecessor. I can't wait to see what Roth has up her sleeve for the next installment in Tris's story.
This is a fun follow-up to the first Castle Waiting. Lady Jain is settling into life in the castle, some Hammerlings (mountain-mining dwarves) swing by to help out with castle renovations, and there's a wonderful bit of bowling fun. This is a really approachable graphic novel and I really enjoyed reading it.
That said, what the heck is up with that ending??? And where in the world is volume 3??? Linda Medley had better get stuff sorted out with her publisher, or whoever is holding this up, because really, that's no way to end a story. The way this ended, I seriously thought there were pages missing at the back of the book. It's that abrupt. But sadly, there's no more Castle Waiting in my (or anyone else's) immediate future. But should a third volume magically appear (like out of Lady Jain's excellent trunk), I'll happily read it.
Friday, June 15, 2012
This memoir was originally published in 1975 and recently re-released. Rosina Harrison, known as Rose, was lady's made to Lady Nancy Astor for thirty-five years. She wrote matter-of-factly about her considerable duties to her ladyship and the long hours she put in while in service. However, her story is not one of drudgery. She was devoted to the temperamental and headstrong Viscountess and their relationship developed into one where the maid could frequently be brutally honest with her mistress to which the response was often "Shut up, Rose!" Nancy Astor was quite the character, American born and the first woman elected to Parliament. She was an outspoken critic when the government wasn't meeting her standards and a thorn in Winston Churchill's side. She was also a tireless worker during the blitz, with her maid and other loyal servants beside her. Rose was in charge of handling the wardrobe, jewels, and getting Lady Astor ready for her multitude of activities. It's clear from her book that Rose enjoyed her thirty-five years in service with all the perks of world travel, meeting royals from different countries and other famous people. Rose was with Lady Astor when she died at age 80. I don't know if there were photos in the original edition but there were none in the paperback version which made it a bit lacking.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Crossing the Borders of Time: a True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed / Leslie Maitland 494 p.
On the other hand, the story of Jeanne's family in Europe was fascinating, and beautifully researched. As we read about Jewish families during the war, it seems painfully obvious that they should bolt for the New World at the first opportunity. Jeanne's story highlights how difficult this decision was in real life, and just how much was lost to those who 'successfully' got away.
I'm listing this in my blog count as 15 pages because that's how much of the book I was able to read before I threw it across the room. (It landed on my yoga mat, no damage to library items was incurred)
I'd skimmed through it beforehand, looking for all these sex scenes that were supposedly SO racy and kinky and whatnot and nothing I saw seemed that interesting, to be honest!
And then I started trying to actually read the book from the beginning and THESE CHARACTERS ARE SO BORING. I don't care about them! I don't care about their relationship, and I certainly don't care about them enough to slog through the rest of this drivel to read about their supposedly hot sex.
Spoiler alert: This book is so boring. The people are boring. The whole meet-cute is boring. The sex is boring. I'm trying really really really REALLY hard not to begrudge anyone their choices in entertainment reading but I just literally cannot conceive of how anyone would find this book in any way good. This heroine has such low self-esteem! Her mysterious cold powerful partner is so full of secrets! Is the secret that he has passionate feelings but is unable to express them in an open and emotionally healthy manner? I BET THAT'S WHAT IT IS.
It has all the oppressive, sexist, creepy stalker abusive relationship themes of Twilight, but this time it's not couched in any vampire metaphors. So...hooray? Wait. No. Not hooray at all. People can read whatever they want but I'm sorry, I can't help looking a little askance when someone is really excited about reading this one. DOES NOT COMPUTE.
I think I'm starting to talk myself in circles. Really I'm wishing I had never tried to read it in the first place! but alas, my morbid curiosity. Sigh.
So I've known about Discworld for a while, but there are just so many books in this series and so many different plotlines that it all seemed way too intimidating for me to get into. And then! One fateful day I ran across a very helpful guide online (no idea where the link is now, but if I find it again I'll edit this post to include it) describing different avenues for newbies to start reading with, which is just what I needed!
I chose Small Gods because, according to this guide, it has basically nothing to do with the rest of Discworld, plot-wise, but in terms of tone and satire it's a great example of Pratchett's style.
And of course I fell in love with said style! I feel like this book was written just for me. Excellent exploration of all the silly intricacies and problems that spring up in any religion, the inherent humor of really militant athiests, and ANCIENT STATUARY JOKES.
I think it might take a particular type of person to be highly amused by ancient statuary jokes, but luckily I am that type of person, so this whole book was a treat.
I highly recommend it if you ever took Latin.
I think my next foray into Discworld will be Guards! Guards! to embark on the stories of the City Watch. I've heard those are good. :)
Alison Bechdel has done it again. A beautiful memoir/biography/auto biography about the author's relationship with her mother. At times, I'm sure I was not keeping up with the psychological and literary comparisons and references but there are many books I've added to my list based on her reading. Her complicated thoughts and insights make me wonder how long my book about my mother would be...probably 5 pages of funny stories and little or no insight aside from, she is great. Guess we are just not as complicated and alas, not so interesting.
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Monday, June 11, 2012
Ace Books, 240 pages
So I've been desperately wishing for a series that fills the void left between installments of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, something featuring a cynical, hardboiled private eye investigating the weird and supernatural. Something from the Nightside has reminded me that, while I was right to wish for all of that, I should have added a caveat to my wish that the resulting book also not suck. John Taylor, the protaginist, has all the cynicism of Phillip Marlowe, but none of the humor, all the guts of Harry Dresden, but none of the charm or loveable nature. But the author goes to great lengths to tell the reader that John Taylor is, above all, TOUGH and DARK. Men fear him, women want him, and he's so dark he probably farts bats.
Green adopts a "tell, don't show" method for explaining how hard-as-nails his PI creation is, with other characters shuttering in fear at Taylor's approach. What makes his so dangerlicious? Hell if I know, and I read the book. Taylor's only power seems to be his inner third eye, his "private eye" (and yes, that is what Taylor calls it, repeatedly, no matter how much I swear at the book in protest) which allows him to see the truth of things, kind of, a little bit...it depends. When he's really hacked off he can, apparently, see the hell out of something, like a door, and thereby destroy it...just by really SEEING at it. Weird. Expect a tragic romantic entaglement that only exists because the genre formula demands it, a sufficiently grey ending to keep with the book's mood and a TOUGH, DARK boatload of sequels full of TOUGHNESS and DARKNESS. Fin.
This is an odd little book full of odd characters. Father Angwin of the village Fetherhoughton has lost his religion and is dealing with a bishop who wants him to modernize. The bishop orders Angwin to remove a majority of the saint statues in the church in spite of protests that his very superstitious flock won't like it. The order is obeyed and Angwin has the statues buried in shallow graves in the churchyard. Enter Fludd, a curate that arrives on a rainy night. Everyone assumes he was sent by the bishop. Add to the story the nuns at the school, the evil tempered Mother Perpetua (called Purpiture by everyone), Sister Philomena, who is having difficulty dealing with her life in the convent, the rest of the nuns at the convent, and Agnes Dempsey, the priest's housekeeper. Superstitions abound in the village, and all believe they have met the devil in various guises, including the tobacconist. But who is the mysterious Fludd? He celebrates mass like a priest and hears confessions. He conspires to return the statues to their rightful place in the church. He also "helps" Sister Philomena with her "problem." Is he a priest, an angel, or a demon?
Sunday, June 10, 2012
In spite of the title, this book has nothing to do with Botticelli masterpiece. However, it is a book about art and artists. Alessandra Cecchi is a headstrong teenager in 15th century Florence. Her wealthy merchant father brings a reclusive artist into the household to paint frescoes in the family chapel. Alessandra is an aspiring artist who desperately wants the young painter to teach her more than just art. Meanwhile, Florence is undergoing big changes with the death of Lorenzo de Medici and the increasing popularity of the fanatical monk, Savonarola. Alessandra agrees to an arranged married with an older man when she learns that he will not deny her books, education , and her painting. However, she sacrifices the hope of married love with Christoforo when she learns he loves another and has married only to protect himself by producing an heir. The fear of Savonarola's torture and his Bonfire of the Vanities alters their lives. The ending to the story contains a twist and is a bit disappointing. The story is intriguing but not as well done as the author's previous novel "In the Company of the Courtesan."
Friday, June 8, 2012
This is book two in "The Curse Workers" series. Reading the first book is essential before reading this one. Cassel Sharpe is a curse worker of the rarest type. His family of curse workers each have their own particular talent which they use for criminal purposes. Cassel is recruited by the FBI to help find the worker who caused the disappearance of five people. With the help of his friends from the private school he attends, he attempts to find them and the culprit who killed his brother without revealing too much about himself. He is also being recruited by his girlfriend's father to work for their crime family. Will Cassel turn in his own family members or those of his girlfriend to the Feds? Of course, the ending is a set up for book three, Black Heart.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Totals: 63 books/18,289 pages
Patrick, Kara and Christa won a shot at the prize bag in this month's random drawing. Summer is upon us, so we should all have more time to read for the team! And don't forget audiobooks while you're out doing other activities.
Continuing the Reacher saga...late to the game with this as so many other things. I made some fun of the first two in this series and have to say that they are getting better. In the first book, Reacher had no problem killing 6 trained assassins with his bare hands...this time he has a little trouble taking out 3 mean guys who are killers but not so professional. He also takes a bullet and is actually injured and needs to recover. There are a few other details that are awesome but still so many things that make no sense. The "person of interest" in this saga is a Vietnam vet whose parent's want to know the truth about what happened to him 30 years ago. Well, it seems like he moved 50 miles away from them, became a complete bad ass but never bothered to change his name. Still, he remains a mystery and nobody can find him. Sure, this is 1999 and there was no google, but please, that does not make a person impossible to find. Anyway, overlook all those rather obvious things and the book is a lot of fun. Reacher is still amazing and the St. Louis military record center plays a roll as does the NY Public library. I will continue reading the series as I have time and I will continue to overlook the craziness of much of it.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
A short little novel with amazing impact. Three brothers are living like boys do with their young parents in an unstable relationship. There are times of hunger and pain but mostly a lot of boy stories. The family is poor and yet very loving and seem close...but the youngest son doesn't quite fit in. The family as a whole has each other but they don't seem to fit in with many others so when you are the one that doesn't quite fit, you can end up being very lonely. I don't want to write too much about this book. I loved it but don't want to spoil the experience for anyone else. Kudos to Mr. Torres.
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012
James Proimos has written several children's books but this is his first venture into Young Adult novels. Hercules Martino is the son of a recently deceased famous talk show psychologist. Herc and his father weren't on the best of terms, to say the least. He is sent to stay with his Uncle Anthony (his dad's brother) in Baltimore for a couple weeks in the summer. Anthony gives Herc a list of things he wants him to accomplish--a sort of "twelve labors of Hercules". Labor #1 is to find a mission. Herc's mission is to find a "Beautiful and Unattainable Woman" he meets on the train to Baltimore. In the process of completing his labors, Herc discovers that he does have some fond memories of his father and that Uncle Anthony has been harboring a secret for many years. This is a fun little book. It's entertaining and a very quick read.
In this volume, the story starts to take a melodramatic turn: William has made up his mind to marry Emma, but he must first break off his engagement to the daughter of a powerful viscount. Of course, this viscount doesn't take this lightly, and decides to remove William's temptation by targeting Emma.
This volume has all the hallmarks of a Victorian penny dreadful: midnight rendezvous, kidnapping, false letters, and rebellions (the latter mostly on William's part). Mori really starts ramping up to a climax here, so it will be interesting to see where the story goes from here.
Monday, June 4, 2012
This is a graphic novel version of Bruchac's novel by the same name. It is based on an Abenaki legend about the people fighting a race of giants. A boy named Weasel Tail watches his mother and others killed by the giants. A giant scratches him with his claw and tells him he will be their slave when they call for him. Weasel Tail develops an uncontrollable temper and is banished. Young Hunter, another young man in the tribe, is given an important task of carrying the "Long Thrower" to another village to help them fight against the giants. The "Long Thrower" is a bow and Young Hunter learns to make arrows and shoot with deadly accuracy before going on his mission to help defeat the giants. The black and white artwork in this book is striking but frequently the lack of text leaves the story a bit confusing. I'm sure I missed some important details in the story because of it.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
In the summer of 1953, the newly former President Harry S. Truman and his wife, Bess did something that is unthinkable today. They got in their car, a brand new Chrysler New Yorker, and took off on a trip across the country from their home in Independence, Missouri to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. They had no Secret Service protection since it wasn't given to former Presidents at that time. In fact, the only protection they had on the road was Bess keeping Harry from driving too fast. The cost of the trip was paid for by the Trumans from the small military pension he received since former Presidents did not receive a pension at that time. The author retraced the Trumans' route, visiting many of the same places and talking to a few people who met them while on that trip. Even though Harry and Bess tried to remain incognito during their trip, they were generally recognized every time they stopped for a meal or to stay at a hotel. There were only a couple times they managed to get completely 'off the radar.' Some of the stories are quite amusing. They were always gracious, even when interrupted during dinner by autograph seekers, although they asked photographers to wait until after the meal to take photos. Harry insisted on loading his own luggage into the car trunk in spite of the insistence of bellhops. However, he was not against taking advantage of free meals, hotel rooms, and tanks of gas when business proprietors offered them. This fun book gives a charming look at a bygone era and the President who was just a regular guy from Missouri.
Saturday, June 2, 2012
I have to admit that while I thought this was a very interesting albeit tedious book, there were sections of it that I didn't understand at all. George Dyson documents the development of the computers that we now can't seem to live without, from the early mathematical theories, through the first early machines that only did simple calculations, on through the development of the ENIAC, MANIAC, and early IBM computers. The government's use of the computers for bomb calculations during World War II and the Cold War nuclear buildup helped spur on the development of new and better systems. The book focuses on many of the people who were instrumental in this work and the contributions they made. Alan Turing, John Von Neumann, Stan Ulam, Jule Charney, Julian Bigelow, Robert Oppenheimer, the author's father, and others are featured in this book. The objections of the "pure" mathematics people to the inclusion of engineers to the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton was amusing to me as was Bigelow's penchant for driving old cars that were always breaking down and Von Neumann's insistence on staying only at fancy hotels when traveling while Turing stayed in hostels. An Amazon reviewer said the inclusion of a timeline would have been helpful and I agree. The book is not presented in a linear fashion but jumps back and forward in time is rather confusing. The title is misleading also, as Alan Turing is only featured in a section of the book. Von Neumann is the main focus.