Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Written by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, this book tries to explain why so many people love France but not the French. An interesting book, although a bit dry at times, it travels through the reasons the French are just worlds away from any other country.

It starts out with French history and how the French people are ingrained in their history even when they are moving forward and becoming more modern. The French hold their elite up and expect them to be better (grandeur); going as far as to create elite schools just to make some people better than others. The book also covers the wars France was involved in, including WWII where they persecuted their Jews before Germany could. Explanations of the various forms of government explain why the French are more than ok with one large governing body and ok with being taxed on everything. Overall, the system works even if it looks unwieldy to everyone else. Most people are covered for medical and unemployment and retirement in France.

This book doesn't explain everything about France but it's pretty close. A good introduction into why the French are the way they are and why they are not necessarily what we think they are.

Monday, December 28, 2009

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

Excellent book in the alphabet series. This one was a little disturbing, most likely because I've spent so much time in nursing homes and around the elderly this year. Kinsey's neighbor, Gus, is in his 80's and ends up falling and dislocating his shoulder. The doctor determines that Gus can't go home without care. His long-lost niece hires an LVN and from there, all hell breaks loose.

There's no rampant violence in this book. Just quiet cunning and elder abuse that is more horrific than a psychopath. Solana Rojas is the nurse who has stolen someone's identity and makes a habit of caring for elderly people and stealing from them and disposing of them when she's done. She's crazy, yes. But able to do all her evil deeds right under everyone's nose. Very scary when you think how vunerable the elderly can be, especially when they have no relatives left.

I wonder what Grafton is going to do when she runs out of letters?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Breathless by Dean Koontz

Grady Adams and Cammy Rivers, along with some violent killers, a frankensteinian homeless man and some others, are just hanging out when they see "something" that convinces them that the world is going to end or explode into chaos. Good premise, bad execution.

I was pretty disappointed in this book. What starts out as magical type creatures and a very weird killer ends up as basically nothing. What are the creatures? Besides pretty? What about the killer? What's his deal? Turns out, nothing.

I doubt I would even recommend this to anyone. It just felt very disjointed and vague.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

I first found out about Kristin from Pushing Daisies. When I started looking around, I realized she was in Wicked, one of my favorite musicals (and book!). If you read her book you really should consider listening to the audio version. Kristin reads it and she has such a distinctive voice that it's really a pleasure to listen to. That, along with her giggles and snorts as she tells stories. That as well plus the guest appearances by her best friend Denny and her on again off again beau Aaron Sorkin. Great little book to listen to!

Kristin details how she got to where she's at. Adopted and living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Kristin pursued her Masters in Opera and went through the pageant circuit to win money to finish her degree. Smart girl.

Moving to New York with Denny, she didn't get overnight success but she did make people stand up and notice her with her talent. She describes the various performances and struggles and how she made it through everything.

Remember, listen to the audio version! It's worth it!