Book Review: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

A great murder mystery set in medieval times.  I felt like the main character, William, was a modern character in medieval times. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that thought this because he addresses it the post script and says that the passages that most people find too “modern” are direct quotes from 14th century texts. I thought the medieval attitude was well portrayed in this book. You could feel the attitude that the world is in decline and that the old days were better than they are now.  I like how he also mentions that there isn’t a story that hasn’t already been told. He talks a lot about books and how “books speak of other books.” I loved this book, but the beginning was hard to get through.  There’s a lot of history that he goes through so get out your Google skills, but it was worth it by the time I got to the end.

Content Rating: Medium, for some suggestive material and some violence.


Upcoming Read -a- Thon

In case any one wants to join me, I’m doing the read-a-thon over at Pure Imagination from July 11-13.  Since this is my first read-a-thon, I’m going to take it easy and see how much I can read in the evenings.  My goal is to read the whole Wolf of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater since the last book of the series comes out right in the middle of the read-a-thon!

Book Review: The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan

This book has two parts.  Part 1 is his autobiography and part 2 is various essays on the economy.  The most interesting part of the book was the autobiography at the beginning. If you couldn’t get through that, it doesn’t get better. The exceptions to this are Chapter 21 Education and Income Inequality and the Epilogue – they were both very interesting and thought provoking. If you want to know what the book says without going through the pain of reading the whole thing, the last chapter, the Delphic Future, summarizes the second half of the book fairly well. All in all a very dry book.  However, I did feel a bond with Alan Greenspan because he was a musician before he went into finance.  People thought it was weird that I changed my major from music to finance, but apparently Alan Greenspan did it, too! I liked this book, but then again I’m a finance major.

Book Review: The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Will’s character bugged me most of the time (mostly because he reminded me of Jace from the Mortal Instrument Series).  Sometimes it just didn’t feel like the story and characters “fit” in Victorian England. But overall, it was entertaining.  It was a page-turner for me.  The author is very good at creating an unpredictable story and immersing you in a totally different world.

Content Rating: Medium, for some swearing and some violence.

Why I Started This Blog

I have tried blogging before and I didn’t like it. I’m also not a fan of personal blogs mostly because I’m a private person but also because I like to be honest in my journal and I’d like to keep my honesty to myself, at least concerning my current life events. My sister, Andrea,  loves blogging and she tried to convince me to write one. I told her the only things that interest me are books…and I’ve been wanting to write these stories from my past. That’s it! I’ll write a book blog! I’m loving it so far.

I’ve always wanted to write down my memories as I remembered them.  Looking back on my life makes me realize how funny it was.  Painful at the time, but hilariously funny now. As an adult looking back, I realize now that some of the things I remember are not factual.  So when I call my writing “true stories,” I mean it in the sense that they are true to the way I saw, felt and experienced them at the time and children don’t always get the facts straight.  I think imposing my adult paradigm on my childhood takes the truth out of them. So what I tell you is true…from a certain point of view.  And a wise man once said, “You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

Some of you may notice that a lot of my Flashback Friday posts have a lot to do with digestive distress. The reason for this is I was recently diagnosed with IBS and I felt this light bulb go off in my head – oh, that’s why all those things happened to me! Suddenly, all of these memories that I thought were random started connecting with an undiagnosed problem that I had my whole life. These memories kept bouncing around in my head and wouldn’t give me any rest until I wrote them down. I actually wrote the Civil War in 3rd Period English piece months before I ever started this blog.  Many of these stories I kept secret because I was ashamed of them, but I realize that they are part of who I am and finding the humor in my trials and then telling them publicly is so liberating to me.  It frees me from the shame that I’ve felt for a long time.

Once a reader, always a reader. My two-year old self even loved reading.

Flashback Friday: “There’s No Such Thing as a Purple Rock.”

One of my earliest memories as I remember it.  I decided to be a little more sentimental this week.  Hope you like it.

There’s a boy who lives across the street in a white-brick house. He’s my best friend and I’m four years old. I don’t remember his name now, but I remember playing in his basement with a toy that you could sit and spin on and riding bikes down our street together.

One day, he told me he was going to the mountains for a week. I didn’t know where “the mountains” were, but they seemed far away. I had no idea how long a week was, but it sounded like a very long time.

I asked my mom every day if it had been a week yet. It seemed like she always said no. And no matter how much I asked, the answer was still no. She thought it was cute at first that I missed him, but she got tired of answering my question over and over. I almost felt like he would get home sooner if I asked just one more time if it had been a week yet.

He finally did come home. I was so surprised when my mom finally said yes when I asked her yet again if it had been a week yet. Fully expecting him to get home that instant, I waited at the window all day until their car pulled into their driveway. And then I had to wait for him to come outside.

When he did come outside, we stood on the corner across the street from my house on his side of the road. Across from us is a house with a nice yard surrounded by a wrought iron fence and filled with pretty flowers that you can’t touch. Kiddy-corner from us is a house with no fence, a yard full of weeds, and mean dogs on chains that I run by as fast as I can whenever I pass it on the sidewalk. On the corner on my side of the street is the Black Dog’s house, but they have a fence. From the corner we’re standing on, you can see the blue, jaggedy Wasatch Mountains in the background. There are two vertical, parallel ridges on the tallest mountain that look like a great big slide. I always wondered, if I was big enough, if I could slide right down the mountain. The mountain reminds me of home because you can only see the slide from where we live. If you go any farther north or south, the slide disappears.

“I brought you a present,” he says.

“What is it?,” I say a little cautiously. He’s not holding anything and I don’t want him to tease me.

“It’s a purple rock,” he says.

With all my 4 year-old indignation I inform him that, “There’s no such thing as a purple rock.”

“Yes there is.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Yes there is.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Then how do I have one?”

He’s got me stumped. Then a thought hits me. “How do I know you have one? I haven’t seen it.”

“I’ll give it to you, then.”

I still don’t believe he has it, but I put my hand out anyway waiting for him to give it to me.

“You have to close your eyes.”

I give an impatient sigh and close my eyes. He better not be teasing me or he is going to be in big trouble.

I feel the rock in my palm and I open my eyes. My first reaction is that the rock is white, and not purple, but underneath the white I can see beautiful lilac flecks. It sparkles a little in the sun. It’s the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. Rocks are brown and grey. I’ve never found one that was purple.

“Did you find this?,” I ask earnestly. This is suddenly very important to me.

“Yes. I found it in the mountains.”

Him finding it makes it all the more valuable to me. Somehow, it makes it a real rock because it came from outside and that made it rare and hard to find. It also said to me that he missed me as much as I missed him. And when he found something so unique and amazing he gave it to me instead of keeping it for himself.

To me, the gift was more than just a rock. Looking at it, I felt wonder growing inside of me, blooming like little flowers. It felt like magic to get something you didn’t think was real. Even staring at it, it almost felt like it wasn’t real. Magic exists for a small moment when the way we see the world changes.

He moved away soon after that. I wish he hadn’t moved when I was so young so I could at least remember his name. But that rock continues to be one of my most prized possessions.

Yes. I still have it.

You think you know everything there is to know about this world full of brown and grey rocks until life gives you a purple one. Those are the best kind of gifts.

Book Review: The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck

The cover and title caught my attention at Borders and I had to read it. The book is pretty straight forward as far as the plot, but it was the writing style that made me love this book.  It wasn’t all fluff and entertainment, either.  He grew on the journey and made me laugh my head off along the way.  Here’s some non-spoiler quotes from the book to give you a flavor:

“She described to us six lanes’ worth of unadulterated fear, populated exclusively by motorists whose driving education had been paid for by the blood of pedestrians.”

“The standard clauses of the American dream only included two weeks of vacation a year.”

Content Rating: Medium. I remember it being fairly clean, but there was some language (if I remember right:)

Book Review: Star Wars Trilogy

It was really interesting to read these novels again now that I’ve seen the prequels. The first thing I noticed – the prequels don’t match up to the back story in this book. In fact, the back story from the novels was much more interesting than Episodes I, II, and/or III.

Let’s start with Star Wars Episode IV and it’s more awesome back story.
Obi-wan says, “Vader used the training I gave him and the force for evil, to help the later corrupt Emperors. With the Jedi Knights disbanded, disorganized, or dead, there were few to oppose him. Today they are all but extinct.”

How much better would the prequels have been if Vader was just power hungry and hung out with the wrong crowd? And why are there EMPERORS plural? Again, it sounds like a good guy got in with a bunch of strange politicians and used his Jedi powers for evil.

Then it says the Jedi Knights are disbanded and disorganized. There’s not many details, but wouldn’t it have been more interesting if Vader had just demonized or belittled their religion while ironically still holding on to that very same religion? Or slowly started to blame them, then label them, introduce prejudice and then systematically exterminate them? Sound familiar? Star Wars is, after all, an allusion to Nazism.

On to Episode V.

This is in the movie too, but Luke talks about having been to Degobah before. I think he has and George Lucas forgot.

Episode VI.

This book has back story in it that is the most blatant drift away from the prequels. Too bad it didn’t make it into the movie. It’s AWESOME.

Obi-Wan says, “When your father left, he didn’t know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen, on Tatooine…and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, on Alderaan.”
What a great story! Secret pregnancies, Padme surviving and hiding her children from her crazy husband, and Owen wasn’t even Luke’s real uncle! Why couldn’t this have been the plot of the prequels?

Later on in the book, talking about Leia it says, “She almost never thought of her real mother – that was like a dream. Yet now Luke’s question made her start. Flashes from her infancy assaulted her – distorted visions of running…a beautiful woman…hiding in a trunk.”  I want to hear the rest of that story.
In the movie, it implies that Leia is talking about her adopted mother. But in the book it’s clear she remembers her adopted mother and her real mother.

Reading this book just made me mad at George Lucas. I couldn’t put it any better than Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

“I prefer to be disappointed in the order George Lucas intended.”

As far as the writing in the novels goes, it was good for Episodes IV and V. Episode VI, Return of the Jedi, got on my nerves a little with his literal translations of everything Artoo and Chewie had to say. Grawrrrr and beepeiodoo lost their charm really fast.

Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child

It made me want to cook, eat and live in France! She’s very funny and honest. It took forever to realize that when she said “marketing” she really meant “shopping at the market.” Her story was very inspiring and it was fun to know that she loved cooking for no better reason than she loved eating.  Same here!

Content Rating: Mild.  Julia swears here and there, but nothing terrible.

Book Review: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

It made me laugh out loud sometimes, but swears so much that I wouldn’t recommend it. The movie catches the essence of what she went through in the book.  There are some scenes in the book that were funny and didn’t make it into the movie, but there are also a few gross stories that didn’t make it into the movie, either.  Overall, the writing was good.

Content Rating:  High, for strong language.