Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Late Mother's Day

Here is a beautiful biology song for Mother's Day!

Thanks for my mDNA and hypothalamus, mom!

Monday, May 17, 2010


I think I will be caught up after this one!

38. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
As I said before, I decided to re-read some of my old childhood favorites. I actually remember the first time I read this I vowed to never read it again because it made me so sad. I was really angry at the author for writing such a sad book.

Paterson really treats the young characters in her book with a lot of dignity. This is, of course, a classic. On my recent re-read, though, I was troubled by an undercurrent of classism, but then I thought Paterson came around in the end. Anyway, Jess's poor parents are not treated in the best way, especially in comparison with Leslie's more well-off family. But part of that might be the point of view being so closely tied to Jess. Still, beautifully written book that really lets the young characters be full human beings.

39. A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry
From the title, you can tell that someone will die in this book. This is the story of two sisters who don't get along, and what happens when one of them becomes sick and, yes, dies. I will not apologize for spoilering as it is in the title and on the book jacket.

This book was ok, but I didn't think Lowry treated the subjects of the book with the same dignity and respect as Paterson does. I think I would have liked this book more if I hadn't read Bridge to Terabithia immediately afterwards.

40. Once Upon Stilletos by Shanna Swendson
This is the second in this series. I am really enjoying it for a fun, fluffy read. This book was a little less enjoyable than the first, as I thought it had a more meandering story that never really got the payoff I wanted. That said, the characters are all fun, and it is great to imagine fairies and wizards running around New York.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


35. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
Part of my re-reading of YA novels from my youth. I forgot that this was also written by the author of Bridge to Terabithia. While I of course loved Bridge to Terabithia as a young Laurie, this is the book of Paterson's that most stuck with me. It really captures the hopeless rage of being a teenager, and the wondering if you'll ever break out of the world you were born into. Really great book.

36. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
I actually listened to this book on my iPod. I don't usually listen to audiobooks, but I downloaded some as part of a plan to motivate me to run. Then I gave up running in favor of dissertating. So in the end, I listened to this on my commutes to campus.

This book is crazy! In the end, it was too much for me. The narrator is really good, and the whole story is told first person by a mafia hit man turned doctor. It is really violent and full of sex and swearing (Mom, you would not like it!). The main character is really engaging, though, and there are lots of awesome medical asides. But seriously, it is full of grossness and violence. Wow.

37. Affinity by Sarah Waters
An upper class woman in 1790s London starts visiting a women's prison and encounters a spiritualist. In what follows, the "lady visitor" starts to believe more and more about spiritualism and tries to fit into a world that doesn't seem to have a place for her in it. The characters in this book were really well done, but in the end it was rather predictable.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


31. Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, ... Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom.

I did not know a single thing about Bella Abzug before I read this book, but now I am filled with admiration for her and sad that I went so long without knowing about her.

The structure of this book is unique, in that it is little snippets of interviews put together to tell Bella's story. At first I was skeptical, but the authors did a great job of a creating a narrative thread out of it. This book is really interesting and inspiring.

Also, dude, what is up with the ERA not being ratified? Read more about it here.

32. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
This was an excellent fantasy novel. It is framed as the re-telling of a life story by an innkeeper, who is much more than he appears. There isn't always a lot of action in this long book, but the story is so well told and the characters are all very interesting. I am looking forward to the rest of the books in this series with high hopes.

33. The Last Van Gogh by Alyson Richman
This is the story of Van Gogh's last days from the point of view of Van Gogh's doctor. It made me interested to learn more about what is actually known about the end of Van Gogh's life, and it was an ok book, but the author over did it in her color descriptions. I think she might have been using a paint catalog. :)

34. Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters
More awesomely fun archaeological adventures! I am loving this series more than ever.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Amazon meme

I have seen this many places, most recently at New Kid on the Hallway.

My first Amazon purchase was on December 30, 1998 and I bought a Mana CD and Couplings, by Peter Schneider. I was really surprised to see that book as I have very little memory of it. I think it was for a book club? Also, I was still in college back then! Holy carp!

Monday, May 03, 2010


29. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
A girl disguises herself as a boy in order to enter training to be a warrior. This was a pretty good read, but it never really grabbed me. It was nice to read about a strong determined girl who goes about reaching her goals by whatever means necessary. There are hints that something big is in store for her, so I will probably keep reading the series. I thought the writing was a little simplistic, but then I saw that this was marked as an "elementary" book not young adult, so that may be part of the problem.

30. Hope for Animals and their World: How Endangered Species are Being Rescued from the Brink by Jane Goodall
This is a good book to read if you are interested in animals or conservation. It is really a collection of small essays about different species that are labeled conservation successes, so it is not great to read straight through. The purpose of the book is to counteract the hopelessness a lot of people feel when discussing conservation. The idea is that this hopelessness stops people from acting, so Goodall decided to present some success stories, in hopes that people will see a difference can still be made for a lot of species that appear to be in a dire situation. I can see the merit in this approach, but at times I was worried the book went too far in the positive direction, and lost some of the sense of urgency that we need to have when thinking about conservation. Also, there was a lot about zoos and captive breeding programs, and I, personally, am not convinced that these contribute to conservation to the extent we hope they do. Still, I love Jane Goodall and this was a very interesting book overall.

Saturday, May 01, 2010