Friday, May 30, 2014

Review Me Twice - Boomsday by Christopher Buckley

This book was very obviously something that Buckley thinks is a big problem.  And, I mean, it is, because let's face it, Social Security is a joke and won't last very long once all our parents decide to retire.  And, to his credit, the book does take a humorous approach to it.  Just off yourself by age 70 and look at all the tax breaks your kids will get!  The Government will even cough up money for a final vacation.

But... it was a very political book.  That doesn't mean I didn't like it.  I thought it was well written, with interesting characters and people that you just love to hate.  I like how ridiculous and over the top the whole situation was, and Randy, senator from Massachusetts was pretty funny too, especially when he was interacting with Cass.  But if politics isn't your thing (which, for me it's not), then this probably isn't going to be the book for you.

It was a well written book and kept me fairly engaged, but it's not something I'd probably read again.

Didn't finish this one. Mostly because I kept accidentally leaving it in my office at work instead of bringing it home to read. But I didn't much enjoy it, so that's probably why... my brain knew I'd rather clean the kitchen or play Hearthstone, so it made me forget the book.

Cassy hit the nail on the head with this one... it's quite a political book, which I don't mind in the least, but I don't know... Social Security is just not the hot-button issue for me that it must be for Christopher Buckley. He's really into talking about it and I just... don't care. I know I probably should, but I don't. I have other political interests.

So I guess if that's the sort of thing you want to think about and read about and get really impassioned about, this might be the book for you. It wasn't bad, outside of the topic.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Literary Holidays

In this week's review book, Boomsday, the titular holiday is the day the Baby Boomers start retiring. But every time I see the title, I keep misreading it as Bloomsday, because that's a thing, too. It's a holiday based on a book, and there are actually several of those, because readers like to celebrate books. Here are a few of my favorite holidays that wouldn't exist if it weren't for certain books.

This one is actually coming up very soon: June 16th of every year. It celebrates the life and work of James Joyce during the day Ulysses takes place. There are lots of annual events around the world that celebrate Bloomsday.

Towel Day
Hopefully you didn't miss this one... May 25 is Towel Day, celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams. To explain, I give you the relevant passage from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value: you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally "lost." What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Hobbit Day
Held on September 22 annually (whichever calendar week contains this day is officially Tolkien Week and has been since 1978) this day celebrates Tolkien's most beloved characters: the hobbits. This day was chosen because it's Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday!

Burns Supper
A Burns Supper is a very popular event in the UK (particularly in Scotland) held on January 25 and featuring a certain menu of Scottish favorites, including haggis. The whole affair celebrates Scottish poet Robert Burns, and his poems are read throughout the event. Sometimes you wrap up the evening with dancing.

There are tons of other literary holidays, and holidays about books and other forms of writing. What's your favorite, and how do you celebrate it?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Favorite Blog

Since one important character in this week's review book is a blogger (and we are bloggers), we thought we might talk about some of our favorite bloggers! (Other than ourselves... we aren't that self-centered.)

Already Pretty outfit featuring blue cardigan, Marimekko dress, Corso Como Del, Rhodesian of Edinburgh satchel
Blatantly stolen from

My favorite blogger is Sally McGraw, who runs the show at Already Pretty. It's a fashion blog that is really big on body positive discussion, making clothes fit the body (not the other way around), and fun trends in clothing and accessories. This is the woman who taught me to love skirts. (I mean, look at her in that one... so cute.) But on top of all that positive energy and pretty clothing, I also like the way she writes. She writes the way she probably talks, and it's all very natural and dialogue-y but also well organized and has a point.

I love PostSecret.  I've always loved PostSecret.  I love that Frank Warren went from this little tiny art project that started with 250 post cards to an explosion that is his blog and all the secrets that people tell him.

I think he also does great things with his fame.  He raises a lot of money for suicide hotlines, to help people who really need it.  And I've met him!  He's a really nice guy, really down to earth, and... really tall.

For the record, I'm 5'11"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

And the Oscar Goes To...

Ok, so who knows if any of these movies will get Oscars, but there are just SO MANY MOVIES this year that are based off of books!  I thought I would let everyone know the ones that are out, or about to come out.

If you didn't know that Divergent was out in theatres, you officially have been living under a rock.  Based on Veronic Roth's novel of the same name, Divergent looks like it could be killer (and I have heard it is, but I hardly ever watch movies anymore.  I should mention I JUST saw HP movie 7 & 8 for the first time a few days ago.)  Want to read the book first?  Then go read our review of it.

Ok, so TECHNICALLY it's not based on a book.  But it IS based on a fairy tale, which we've talked about extensively on this blog.  And Malificent (coming out in just a week) looks like it's going to be a fabulous "other side of the story" telling of the movie.

Who doesn't absolutely love John Green?  We certainly do, and not just for this book (though, we  liked that too.)  The movie promises to be sweet and amazing and, of course, a real tear jerker.  Also, there's a good chance it'll hold pretty true to the book.  John Green has done multiple interviews saying he didn't want the book made into a movie if it wasn't going to be done correctly.  The book was deeply personal to him, and it looks like he's held the movie up to the same standards.

This is one movie that I desperately hope they don't screw up.  The Maze Runner is an amazing book, and could potentially make an amazing movie, but it doesn't always work out that way.  Guess we'll just have to wait until September to find out.

What books to movies are you most looking forward to?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Author Bio - Christopher Buckley

Our author this week, Christopher Buckley, has written a number of novels.  His most famous, however, was probably Thank You For Smoking, which was made into a movie in 2006 (and the book is fabulous.  You should go read it.)

Buckley graduated from Yale in the early '70s and has a number of prodigious things on his resume, like being the editor for Esquire magazine and the speech writing from (at the time) Vice President George H.W. Bush.

In 2008, he endorsed Obama, much to the surprise of his readers of the conservative magazine, National Review.  The title of the article was, "Sorry, Dad, I'm voting for Obama."  The title alone shows you the incredible tongue in cheek style that Buckley adopts for his books.

He doesn't seem to have a website, but has written more than a few articles for magazines like the National Review and The Daily Beast.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review Me Twice: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling

Our friend Christopher told me to read this book, like, three years ago. Something like that. Anyway, I finally got around to it. And it was worth it.

Books by comedians are usually like having a one-sided conversation with that comedian, and Mindy Kaling is no different. Each chapter is totally random (one is all the photos that are on her Blackberry and a brief description of each one... another chapter consists of detailed instructions on how her funeral should be set up... another is all about the non-traumatic things that make her cry) but it all works together.

Total honesty? She and I probably wouldn't get along. She admits to being a drama queen and loving shopping and crying at trivial things and arguing with pretty much everyone... but it's funny. And I don't have to be her friend; I just want to laugh at her stories. And I did. Out loud, and confusing my husband. (And then reading passages at him. Not to him... at him.)

It's a quick read, and a funny read, and the kind you can put down often if you need to because some chapters are literally one page, and a lot are two or three pages. And I've only ever seen about five episodes total of The Office, so I can also attest to the fact that you don't need to have seen it to get it. (Although it helps to know who Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson and Michael Schur are, because she talks about them a couple times.)

Little known fact: I usually hate books written by comedians.  Why, you might ask?  Because, usually, they're not as funny as I think they should be.  I think they should be hilarious, and they so often are not, probably because, let's face it, most comedians are not writers.

Kaling, however, is a writer who writes comedy.  For a living.  It is her JOB to make me laugh via writing.  So I was unsurprised when I DID like this book, and I DID laugh out loud a lot because she has that quirky, dry, sarcastic kind of humor that I have and enjoy.

I, like Alex, have limited knowledge of The Office (i.e., I've never seen a single complete episode.  I've never even come close to completing an episode.  The closest I've come is seeing the Leverage parody of The Office.  Which was hilarious.)  But knowledge of The Office is completely unnecessary for it to be funny.  

If you're going to pick up a book by a comedian, I would recommend this one.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Celebrities Who Love Reading

You may have seen those READ posters in the library, or maybe not. But the ALA (American Library Association) has a huge selection of READ posters featuring celebrities, art, quotes, and other themes. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the celebrities who have lent their visages to these posters.

You'll find that a lot of actors from movies based on popular books
do these posters to promote the book(s) as well as the film(s)
and the cast of Harry Potter is no exception.

I very badly wanted to own the Orlando Bloom LotR READ poster
when those films were being released. Let's face it... I still kind want this poster.

Musicians get in on the fun, too:
Britney Spears, LL Cool J, and Yo Yo Ma, pictured.

I think some of my favorites are the "cool guy" posters.
It's like they're saying, "Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Hugh Jackman,
and Colin Farrell make the ladies swoon. They also read.
Coincidence? I think not. READ."

Sports celebrities join the action as well. (Though I'm sad to say,
I didn't see any sports celebrities in the currently available
collection from ALA.) Here we have the mascot at DePaul, Yao Ming, and Drew Brees.

And of course, you have to appeal to the nerdy kids already in the library (don't be offended, I'm referring to myself too): Bill Gates, Nathan Fillion, and Yoda have all graced official ALA READ posters.

What celebrity would you most want to see on a READ poster? (Chances are pretty good they're already on one.) (Note: Not every poster featured in this post is an official ALA Read poster; some of them were inspired by the recognizable format, and I feel like that counts for something.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Favorite Books by TV Stars

I love Penn Jillette. I think he's funny, he's smart, he's intent on informing people about issues he thinks are important... and if I ever had a daughter, I would want to name her Moxie, too. (Maybe not Moxie Crimefighter, but to each their own.) I love HBO's Showtime's (thank you, Paul, for catching that!) Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, I remember him being on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (no, seriously... he was the head of the witches' council), and I can even forgive him for being on "Dancing with the Stars" and "Celebrity Apprentice."

Religion is a touchy subject, so I try not to talk about it with strangers very much, and I extend that personal policy to my blogging. The internet is a dangerous place for religious discussion. So I'll leave it at this: If you're an atheist, this is a great book for agreeing with. If you aren't, it's a good book for looking at other perspectives (if you aren't too sensitive about your own religion, because otherwise you might get offended; let's put it this way... it was written for atheists, so if you aren't one, just keep that in mind and put it down if you don't like it... There's a reason I don't go around reading books by Joel Osteen and Billy Graham).

Really, given the chance, who wouldn't pick World War Z?  Even though I named Unwind as my favorite book last year, World War Z was the first runner up, and for good reason.  It was well-written and engaging and gave you such a great sense of... bonding together to defeat a common enemy.

Telling it from the perspectives of individuals makes it even better.

He's mostly done voice-overs in his acting career, probably most notably was Howard in Batman Beyond back in the early 2000s.  He writes more than he acts, but he has done a lot of appearances on shows like Roseanne and 7th Heaven.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Reading

With summer coming up so quickly, a lot of summer reading programs are starting.  I'm just going to tell you about a few that you can sign your kids (if you have them) and yourself up for.

B&N has a summer reading program for kids.  It's fairly simple.  Read books, keep track of what your read, write a little diddy and get a free book!  The books are divided by age range and for every 8 books a kid reads, they can turn in their journals for a free book from Barnes & Noble.

BAM also has a summer reading program for kids.  They only require six books to receive a free book, but they also seem to have less selection than B&N for the books you get for free.  Either way, it's a great place to enroll your kid.

The Library

Libraries ALWAYS have summer reading programs.  I've lived in three states and I have yet to have a library that doesn't sponsor one.  What's more, the library that I currently go to actually has a summer reading program for adults.  And two ways to participate.  You can play reading "bingo" and complete tasks around the library (like learning how to use the card catalogue) or you can just read books.  The prizes are actually a raffle as opposed to physical things, but you do get entered to win a lot cooler stuff, like and iPad.

Scholastic has an online summer reading program.  Kids read books, log them on the website, and they can earn rewards, mostly online virtual prizes.  However, they do get entered into contests to win things like books and posters.

What other summer reading programs did I miss?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Author Bio: Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling is probably best known for her work on The Office (the American version), writing, directing, producing, and acting as Kelly Kapoor. I admit that I only know her character's name because I've already read her book, which we're reviewing this week (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns). She also has a Fox sitcom, The Mindy Project, which was just (in March) renewed for a third season.

She has also been in film, most notably in This Is the End and Wreck-It Ralph.

She has been named one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" of Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly and one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world, both in 2013.

Mindy Kaling is funny, successful, not a Hollywood twig, and therefore - in my opinion - a great role model for girls (or anyone).

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review Me Twice - Timeline by Michael Crichton

I read this week's book a LONG time ago.  We're talking 10 or more years.  But, since that first reading, I've probably read this book three or four times now.  Crichton has written a litany of books, but I think that this one ranks as my favorite by him.

As is per usual with Crichton, the books does have some technical jargon and a lot of science backing it up.  But, as a reader, I don't feel lost or confused by it.  He's really good at explaining the science without making me feel like an idiot.

I also LOVE the characters going back.  The action story he created was just fantastic, because it's exciting in the past and in the present.  There are things going on in both that make you just sit on the edge of your seat.  Seeing the effects that the past has on the present and vice versa, is just so well done in this story and something that I can buy.  Is time travel real?  No, but Crichton presents it in such a way that I feel like it could be.  I don't feel like this is so far out of reality, or even the realm of possibility.  This COULD happen.  This COULD be, and very likely WILL be, something that we figure out how to do.

While I will recommend pretty much anything written by Crichton, I think that Timeline is the best, the one that will appeal to the most readers, and certainly the one that I've always loved the most.

Honesty time: I didn't finish this book. It just wasn't the right week for me to read it. But it's not bad.

I agree with Cassy on the plausibility front... I definitely feel like Crichton made it seem like time travel is a totally real thing that I've just never run across in my life.

It's fairly driving... I do want to eventually go back and read it, but I don't feel compelled to do so as quickly as possible. I think I can pick it up again a long while from now and figure out where I left off without starting over (which says something about how well the writing sticks with me, I think).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Time Travel... Through Time

Time travel is not a new fascination for writers. We've been thinking about and writing about travelling through time for... well, a long time.

Mahabharata. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are the two ancient epics of Hindu mythology. There are a lot of stories encompassed by them, but there is a tale of King Revaita in the Mahabharata, where he goes to another world to meet Brahma (the Creator) and when he returns, hundreds of years have passed.

Talmud. In the Talmud (the central text of Rabbinic Judaism), there is a story about a man who sleeps for 70 years, waking to find that his grandchildren had become grandparents.

Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan). This is the second oldest book of Japanese history. In it, there is a story of Urashima Taro, a fisherman who saves a turtle, and is rewarded with a trip to see the Dragon God under the sea. He stays for three days, but when he goes home, he has been gone for 300 years.

A Christmas Carol. In Charles Dickens' 1843 story, Scrooge's whirlwind tour of Christmasses past, present, and future are a form of time travel, whether you consider them a dream, a ghostly vision, or literal.

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain's 1889 classic is a humorous tale of an engineer who is transported back to the age of King Arthur and convinces the folks he finds there that he is a magician.

The Time Machine. Do I really need to tell you that this 1895 H G Wells book is about time travel?

Slaughterhouse-Five. This 1969 Kurt Vonnegut novel is about a man named Billy Pilgrim who becomes "unstuck in time." It's told in nonlinear order, because Billy's life jumps around randomly in his personal timeline.

After this, sci-fi abounded, and time travel was everywhere in books, TV shows, films, video games... everywhere.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Favorite Sci-Fi Book

Since we're reading a sci-fi book this week, Timeline by Crichton, we're telling you our favorite sci-fi book.

Mine is really a sci-fi series that I like, but with sci-fi, that's not uncommon.  The very first book in the series is called Stardoc.  Cherijo is a doctor, who, throughout the series spends time traveling the galaxy, healing people.  She also happens to be a clone with a super immune system and is running from her father/creator.

There's a lot of adventures and twists and turns and secrets revealed, and while each book COULD be read alone (I started on book three inadvertently and got through it without much problem), they really should be read in the series that they are.

That's a photo from my wedding, y'all. I think that demonstrates that yes, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy qualifies as my favorite sci-fi book. (This particular copy was mutilated in the name of holding our rings... totally worth the sacrifice.)

Beyond the usability as a prop in my nuptials, it's a great series. If you like British humour and non sequiturs and weird little side plots and you have an open mind about the state of things in the universe, it's perfect for you.