Friday, March 28, 2008

Seven Days to Sex Appeal - Eva Margolies & Stan Jones

What a different read after No Country for Old Men. I received this book from the Early Reviewers group at LibraryThing. Even though I won't read Cosmo or Glamour or any of those magazines, I thought it would be fun to give this a shot. Just to see if the advice given to women was ... better.

First, the pages alternate different graphic and/or animals prints and makes it very difficult to read. Second, while I do know some women who would love this book and take it to heart, it just isn't me. The book says that men like women who take up little space, are delicate and appear vulnerable. It goes on to describe different techniques to achieve all of those things, including how to sit, how to "self-caress", how to appear to need the man's help. Let's not forget pursing your lips, batting your eyelashes, how to stand with your pelvis out and how to do the runway and parade walks.

As I was reading this, I quizzed a few guy friends on these techniques and their responses. It ranged from "Oh yeah, that would be hot" to "I think that would scare me away" to "I just want a woman who isn't crazy, ok?"

Interesting results.

The only part of the book that I found helpful is the end, about sex appeal at work. It did give some good advice on how to "act" at work to get the attention you want. Which, honestly, as a woman in a male-dominated career, I can use.

Feminism will be fully embraced when all women can dress, act, talk, and just be how they want without ridicule or criticism from anyone, especially from other women. We really are our own worst judges. I know women who love the hunt for men, they love the chase, they love dating. This book would be great for them. For me, however, it's just not right. I don't hunt, chase or love the thrill of dating 10 guys at once.

So kudos to those gals, go get this book (you can take my copy). I'll be the chick in the corner reading Bukowski and probably sending all the wrong kinds of signals.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy

This book is basically: No Country for Old Men tells the story of a drug deal gone wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama, as three men crisscross each other's paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas.

I've had the movie for about a week and felt that I really needed to read the book first. Luckily, my friend had it and loaned it to me.

I've read The Road and was dumbfounded by the bleakness of it. No Country for Old Men dumbfounds me with the violence. Admittedly, the very first chapter made me a little ill, but I kept going because, ill or not, I was sucked in.

One thing about this book: I normally read straight through, meaning I don't go back and re-read bits and pieces. The only books I've ever kept going back to re-read chapters was Middlesex and The Road. And now this. I was constantly going backwards to re-read. It was very very well-written and so full of meaning, that I had to go back to appreciate what I had just read!

There are really only 3 real characters in this book: Moss, Bell and Chigurh. Bell is the sheriff of a small Texan town. Moss is the man who finds bodies and money in the desert and decides to take the money but leave the bodies. Chigurh is just evil incarnate. And he wants the money. Personally, while other characters are mentioned and mostly fleshed out, they don't matter. It all boiled down to Moss, running for his life, being chased by Chigurh, who in turn is being tracked down by Bell.

I don't want to give anything away about the outcomes of the 3 characters so, generically, I'll say:

The amount of evil is frightening. The amount of evil contained in Chigurh makes me desperately hope that no one in real life is like this (although I know there are).

The calmness and tenacity of Bell was admirable. Until you get his backstory and then, you understand where he was coming from but wonder how admirable he really is.

Moss. Dammit man, why did you take the money???

At one point, I was angry enough with the turn of events to put the book down for the night and not get back to it til the next day. As in life, this isn't a pretty ending. It's not wrapped up neatly with a bow. Really, it's not wrapped up at all.

I'm still angry with the outcome but then, that's when you know the book is pretty dang good, isn't it? When it ignites you for days after you've put it down.

Can't wait to see the movie now :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Life With Corpses - Wylene Dunbar

I read this in 2006 and recently found my review that I had written right after I finished reading it:

my book is goood. i explained the theory of the book to james today and he seem pretty interested in it. y'all know i'm reading my life with corpses, right? the theory goes like this:

people die, every day, and they still live. in fictional theory, you have a corpse inside you and it's waiting to come out. people are walking around you all the time but they've already died. Literally, they have died and become corpses, however only the narrator sees them for what they are. But they still function, still living the life they know, they don't usually know they are dead.

the narrator is "dying" ie. seeing her corpse more prominently then before (i've had too much to drink and I still like big words!!). the only way to push your corpse back is to live. metaphorically, it's excellent. how many people do you know who have mentally died but their bodies keep functioning?? if you go about your daily life without passion, are you dead?

it's really a great book and has so many good passages (which i share below). But, as we've already established, i am interested in death and the way people handle it, so this book may not be for everyone. death is obviously a big part of the plot.

"Good. This evening I need a god." (i would just like a god that i could believe in not to tear me apart for fun and games.)

"..of course, it was easy to be "faithful" when your definition excluded one-night stands and anything done out of town."

"..that when we harm another on purpose, the execution of our intent can form a vector from us to the other, forcing a part of our life down its line to be destroyed as well." (that kills any chance of revenge...)

"I no longer needed what he had once been willing to give me. I had unexpected new nourishment for the fragment of life that had survived." (for people trying to suck the life out of you. some part of you can still hang on and fight.)

"My thinking was this: if I simply turn around and walk back, and if I do that every time I come to the brink, won't that save me?" (that's my theory as well. so far, i've been able to turn around and walk back.)

"When walking blind you might, for instance, come to a brink already occupied by another and that other might be waiting there with no better purpose than to throw you off." (oh yes. i know people like this. they are "dying" and willing to sacrifice you to save themselves.)

"There are those who never get enough [life] no matter how much they use up and, so, they grab and take life without reciprocation - the stealers.."

"..but it seems that regardless of where we go, we are, as far as cause and effect are concerned, all in exactly the same spot."

"We need other people to live and, yet, they might well be killing us, all at the very same time."

"We are all carrying our corpses with us, ready for the memorial service."

death isn't a morose topic if you approach it right.

half a bottle of wine later and i feel the need for a bubble bath.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poetry as Insurgent Art - Ferlinghetti

My friend got me this for my birthday or Christmas. They're so close together it probably doesn't matter which. Unfortunately, after I started reading this, I lost it. It's the size of my hand and it was pretty easy to misplace. I found it last night in a fit of cleaning and finished reading it.

"From the groundbreaking (and betselling) A Coney Island of the Mind in 1958 to the "personal epic" of Americus, Book I in 2003, Lawrence Ferlinghetti has, in more than thirty books, been the poetic conscience of America. Now in Poetry As Insurgent Art, he offers, in prose, his primer of what poetry is, could be, should be. The result is by turns tender and furious, personal and political. If you are a reader of poetry, find out what is missing from the usual fare you are served; if you are a poet, read at your own risk—you will never again look at your role in the same way."

I enjoyed this book although it was radically different than what I normally read. There were several statements I ended up underlining because they were that good.

"Question everything and everyone, including Socrates, who questioned everything. Question "God" and his buddies on earth."

It's a different book that really encourages you (even if you're not a poet) to go out and let your voice be heard, change the world and how people think.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The IBS Healing Plan - Theresa Cheung

I scored this ARC from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer group. And I'm very pleased that I did.

IBS is just one of the many digestive problems I have and, while I've been fairly successful in keeping the symptoms under control, I haven't seen a book that was dedicated to natural ways of subduing IBS. This book covers a lot of ground including what foods to eat, supplements to take (vitamins/minerals/herbs), alternative therapies (massage, acupuncture, etc) and stress management.

Although this book goes the natural route, the author repeatedly asks the patient to work with their doctor and not to go off trying herbs and such willy nilly.

I especially liked the A-Z symptom guide with hints on how to help your specific IBS symptoms...because there are quite a few of them.

All in all, this was an informative book and, as a 12 year veteran of IBS, I even learned a few things.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison

I was listening to B&N's Meet the Writers podcasts and Kim Harrison was interviewed. Never heard of her before so I figured I'd give it a listen.

Now I'm a huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series. Anything supernatural where the characters are, for lack of a better word, human. Funny and flawed. The more I listened to Kim talking about Rachel Morgan, the happier I got.

Rachel is a witch. Her friends include a pixie named Jenks and a vampire named Ivy. In their world, there is a place called the Hollows where all 3 live in a church. The rest of the supernatural beings also live and work there. Supernaturals live among the humans because of a bioengineered tomato that wiped out a lot of the human race. Does this all make sense? I'm still sorting it out. I think I keep mixing up Anita's world with Harry's world now with Rachel's world.

Rachel quits her job at the IS and suddenly has a death threat on her head from her company (how awful would that be if that happened in real life?? ick). This novel races through with Rachel as she tries to avoid all the assassins and get her death threat removed. Encounters with demons, vampires, fairies and weres are heavy throughout the book. It really does race along .. honest.

I will definitely be reading the remaining books in the series. Jenks has to be my new favorite character.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Plum Lucky - Janet Evanovich

Amazon Synopsis:
In bestseller Evanovich's breezy third holiday novella (after Plum Lovin'), Stephanie Plum's kooky Grandma Mazur finds a duffle full of money on the street and hightails it to Atlantic City. When Stephanie learns that the money was stolen from Delvina, a notorious Trenton mobster, she and her friend Lula head off in pursuit. In Atlantic City, the Jersey bounty hunter discovers she's not the only one after Grandma after meeting Snuggy, an ex-jockey who originally stole the money and is convinced he's a leprechaun. With her on-again off-again boyfriend Morelli tied up with a murder case and the sexy Ranger otherwise occupied, Stephanie turns to the mysterious Diesel for help. As she tries to keep Grandma safe and fend off the advances of Diesel amid the slot machines and craps tables, Stephanie realizes she may be in over her head. With her trademark wit, cast of eccentric side characters and hilariously absurd plot twists, Evanovich treats her fans to a delightful miniadventure sure to whet their appetites for the next full-length Plum escapade.

My Thoughts:
Only a couple of laugh out loud moments with this book. It seems Ms. Evanovich is trying to aim for holidays as well as numbers (between-the-numbers!). I'm beginning to wish she'd stick to the numbers.

Anywho, this is about Stephanie, Grandma and Lula getting into trouble with a leprechaun and a horse. Chaos commences.

The Road from Coorain - Jill Ker Conway

Amazon Synopsis:
At age 11, Conway ( Women Reformers and American Culture ) left the arduous life on her family's sheep farm in the Australian outback for school in war-time Sydney, burdened by an emotionally dependent, recently widowed mother. A lively curiosity and penetrating intellect illuminate this unusually objective account of the author's progress from a solitary childhood--the most appealing part of the narrative--to public achievement as president of Smith College and now professor at MIT. Gifted with an ability to adapt to a wide range of cultures and people and despite ingrained Australian prejudice against intellectuals, Conway devoted herself to the study of history and literature, spurred on by excellent British-style schooling. Her further adventures could easily make a rewarding second volume.

My Thoughts:
This was a Bookmooch grab and I read this because my g'ma was also from Australia and came to America around WWII.

This book didn't focus as much on Oz as I thought although the descriptions of the Outback area and their farm were very good. I was able to picture it very well.

Towards the end, when the author was in Sydney and in school, I thought it dragged a bit. But was still a decent read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Australian life.

The Appeal - John Grisham

B&N Synopsis:
Politics has always been a dirty game.
Now justice is, too.
In a crowded courtroom in Mississipi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town’s water supply, causing the worst “cancer cluster” in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it.
Who are the nine? How will they vote? Can one be replaced before the case is ultimately decided?
The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court. The cost is a few million dollars, a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Mr. Trudeau. Through an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit, his political operatives recruit a young, unsuspecting candidate. They finance him, manipulate him, market him, and mold him into a potential Supreme Court justice. Their Supreme Court justice.
The Appeal is a powerful, timely, and shocking story of political and legal intrigue, a story that will leave readers unable to think about our electoral process or judicial system in quite the same way ever again.

My Thoughts:

Aggggh! What's happened to me? I used to love reading Grisham's legal thrillers. I admit to speeding through this one pretty quick. The plot, "bought" elections, is pretty interesting especially in the year of the Presidential election. When campaigns get millions and millions of dollars, you do wonder where it goes.

I didn't think the characters were fleshed out very well. I didn't find any of them really likable or endearing.

The ending was a bit of a twist. So I'll give him that.

The Sweet Far Thing - Libba Bray

From Amazon:
IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

My Thoughts:

The 3rd and final book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy. It's been so long since I read Rebel Angels that I'd forgotten what was going on. I quickly remembered and sped through this book.

This is part of a Young Adult series but it well worth the reading. The first book in the series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, was the book of the month of a book club I went to (once - long story). It's a very intriguing series from the get-go.

The Sweet Far Thing was a nice, clean wrap up, although sad in some spots. I'll admit to a few tears. :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Obedience - Will Lavender

Synopsis from A complex conspiracy involving the writing of a book drives Lavender's compelling debut, a thriller that will strike some as a mix of John Fowles's The Magus and Stephen King's The Shining. At Indiana's Winchester University, three students—Brian House, Dennis Flaherty and Mary Butler—are taking Logic and Reasoning 204, taught by enigmatic Professor Williams. They quickly learn this is a course like no other. Their single assignment is to find a missing 18-year-old girl, Polly, in six weeks time—or else, Williams asserts, she will be murdered. Is this merely an academic exercise? As Williams produces clues, including photographs of Polly and her associates, the students begin to wonder where homework ends and actual homicide begins. Together with Brian and Dennis, Mary ventures off campus in search of Polly into a world of crumbling towns, decrepit trailers and hints at crimes old and new. A rapid-fire plot offsets thin characterization, though the conspiracy becomes so all-encompassing, so elaborate, that readers may feel a bit like Mary when baffled by her quest: This is what she felt like: led, played, not in control of anything she did.

My Thoughts:

I read a review about this one on Bookgasm and it sounded interesting. The plot sounded like something I've never heard of and I was ready for a new type of mystery! I'm finished with it and not entirely sure I liked it. There were some big holes in the plot and this book really needed a better editor.

For a first book, I'll give him props. It was a good plot and story. It just needed a little bit of help.