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Friday, December 23, 2011

Temperance Review


by Cathy Malkasian

genre: graphic novel

I'm not sure where to even begin with this one.  In fact, I'm not even sure how I feel about it.  It's not that I didn't like it.  I did, on a certain level.  This book delves into weighty subject matter such as blind faith, mental abuse, physical abuse and traumatic memory loss.  However, none of these subjects felt particularly dealt with to completion in the story.  Toward the end of the book, the story seemed to fall apart into jagged pieces which I had a difficult time reconciling into the story-line up to that point.

At face value, the book is full of beautiful illustrations.  I appreciate the detail of the artwork and the style of drawing.  But the story itself seemed heavy on narrative which is rather odd in a graphic novel.  Additionally, there were too many fantasy elements which were left unexplained and that felt distracting to me.  In the end I thought the author pulled those into a sort of mythological explanation of opposing seasons (winter/summer, autumn/spring).  But given the deeper subjects of the story, this resolution felt far too simple and rather anti-climactic.

So, I'm on the fence with this one.  How did you feel about it?  What did you think the final message was?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Move Little Train, Move

Ok, so Temperance review this week.  I'll plan for Thursday.  Has anyone started reading You Lost Me There?  I have it but haven't picked it up yet.  I'm anxious to start.

See you back here on Thursday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sh*t My Dad Says Review and Discussion

Sh*t My Dad Says

by Justin Halpern

genre: memoir, humor

Justin Halpern's father is a bottomless well of in-your-face wise but crass quotes.  I expected to be humored, possibly to the point of laughing out loud.  I hadn't expected to laugh through the entire book or that I would actually like his dad.

As a character in life, this guy likely ticks off people left and right simply due to his uncouth manner and lack of social filter.  That said, if you listen long enough you'll hear that he's not a scary flippant but a softy with a side of common sense.  His devotion to his children and to people in dire straits shows up often enough to make him lovable.

As for the writing in the book, it has a folksy feel to it, only this folksy includes a lot of swearing.  Anyone who gets offended by foul language should not read this book, but then the title should have warned you off in the first place.  Format wise I liked how he would tell a little anecdotal story at the beginning of each chapter and then end the chapter with straight up quotes from his dad.  I get the feeling only the good stuff was put in, as in, his dad might have acted worse on occasions but we're getting the publishable version.  That said, if you were writing a humorous book about your dad, wouldn't you write it that way?

The best thing about this book is plainly explained by its title.  I cried laughing and often interrupted my husband's reading to share quotes that were cracking me up.  I believe every good reading regimen needs light and fun books thrown in to the mix.  This fits that bill in spades.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where have you been?

You might well ask that of me.  Around, I'll tell you.  But, the good news is, it is time to start moving on the club again!  Therefore, tomorrow will be the Sh*t My Dad Says review and discussion and we are reading Temperance and hopefully will be able to do a review and discussion by next week or the week after depending on your readiness.  How cool is that?

Which also means, we should do a book opening next week, that way you have time to put your requests in to your local library for the next book.  I'd say Tuesday would be a good day.

So, in summary:

  • Sh*t My Dad Says official review and discussion Friday, December 9th
  • Start reading Temperance right now, no I mean this minute! (not really)
  • Opening of Book 4 on Tuesday, December 13th
See you back tomorrow.

P.S. Kevin Spacey posted a comment on The Big Short with some questions he had about the book.  I'm going to get my book out and dig into it again to see if I can answer (though I'm just no financial guru).  If anyone else out there that has read the book can answer his questions - please chime in.  Thanks

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book 4 Set 3 Opening - correction Book 3

Just so you know, we have a new camera.  Same cameraman/husband but the speaker on the camera is located in a different place.  So we had sound difficulties.  Sorry about that.  In any case, the video will give you what you need, the first peek at the next book!

So I just now noticed that I'm skipping my numbers a bit.  This is not book 4, this is book 3!  Sorry about that

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What We're Reading

Is anyone out there reading Sh*t My Dad Says?  Is anyone out there?

This book is a great little breeze to read.  Sometimes it's fun to have a lighter book to get the reader ball rolling.  I'm enjoying this one for that.

I think, since the book is going to be a fast read once you get it, I'd like to do another opening this Friday.  That way, new book procurement can begin.  We can post up a review and discussion for this one sometime next week.  What do you say?

Anyone?  Anyone?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Hallows Read

Did you participate in All Hallow's Read?  We did.  Well they weren't exactly very scary books.  But they were fun with a little Halloween theme.

They were much enjoyed.  If you gave or received scary books for All Hallow's Read, what were they?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book 2 Set 3 Opening - en francais

The Big Short Review and Discussion

The Big Short

by Michael Lewis

genre: non-fiction

You know going in, this book is going to be like watching a train de-rail.  You know you're going to be mad as hell and shocked at the catastrophic pyre.  But you also know you won't be able to stop yourself.  Which is exactly what happened.  What I didn't expect, was that I understood all of it.  Wall Street talk has an earned reputation for being difficult to understand.  Let's face it, even people working on Wall Street preceding this last fallout didn't seem to understand.  But Michael Lewis lays out this story in concise layman's terminology.

What I loved about this book made up for the train wreck slowly happening over 268 pages.  Michael Lewis' writing style is easy-going and personable.  He talks about the people involved not in a clinical manner, but more in a story-like style.  He gives the background story on the people he follows.  He shows how the inception of these complicated, and incidentally convoluted, deals occurred.  He invites you inside the heads of people like Steve Eisman, Michael Burry and Greg Lippmann to name a few.  Through it all, he explains clearly what the components of the mortgage bond market and the products created that would ultimately collapse the financial world in on itself were.

The toughest part about reading this book is thinking of all the little guys in the houses bought during this crap storm, aware or unaware of their risk.  Knowing how they ultimately were the losers.  Billion dollar deals passed hands like grocery store purchases while people were being sold a load of goods about variable rate mortgages being sound and low risk.  Massive bonuses falling into the bank accounts of irresponsible financial wolves for nothing more than basically showing up to work.  It was the damn Titanic all over again.  Government involvement essentially handed the life boats to the guys who steered the boat into the iceberg and left the homeowners in the bottom decks waiting for the flood to come in.  So, yes I enjoyed this book and cringed at each passing page simultaneously.  I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review and Book Opening Announcement


My thoughts on The Big Short will be published here as well as a new video for the next book.

So, meet me here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Another Book and the Brown Book Status

So I finished reading Wives and Daughters, a wonderful guilty pleasure I gave myself this past week (review to follow). I am also nearly finished reading The Big Short.  Which brings me to my real point.  Have you finished?  Would you like to set up a discussion date?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How I Bugged My Brother, Read Two New Books and Learned New Words All While Enjoying the Zing of Great Critical Essay

It started with an interest in critical essay.  My older brother is an avid reader and has read several books of critical essays.  I solicited his recommendations for my first plunge into that genre and he shot back some wonderful books, including the two I have read so far:  A Reader's Manifesto by B. R. Myers and Hatchet Jobs by Dale Peck.
I posted a review of A Reader's Manifesto last month basically expounding my agreements with Mr. Myers assertions.  Just after that I picked up Hatchet Jobs and read it thirstily.  I however cannot review this book.  Here's why.
First, I have not read many of the author's that Mr. Peck so specifically crucifies and don't feel equipped to agree or disagree with him without having first done that.  He makes great arguments and uses excerpts to prove his points, but in this book he is not so much presenting an idea about fiction in general.  He is pointedly attacking certain authors and works.  I am uncomfortable making any decisions about his essays before reading at least some of his victims.
Second, Mr. Peck's language skills and vocabulary had me reeling, thus proving that I am not afraid of challenging language.  While I understood the book in whole, there were many words that I had never seen in my life and I loved that, but was too eager to finish the book to get out my dictionary.
Given those two crucial points, I am determined to first read some works he studies and second re-read his book with a dictionary at my side.  I can however say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  His vitriolic debating style had great zing and made me laugh out loud repeatedly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Acquisitions

Checking in.  Have you gotten hold of the book?  Have you been able to start it?  Are you way ahead of me and already finished?

I'm not far in, but this week will be the week for The Big Short by Michael Lewis.

I do hope you (as many of 'you' as possible) will be reading it too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book 1 Set 3 Opening - You doubted didn't you?

I'm here to reassure you no giant ant has eaten me or my computer.  Below, proof.  Also below, proof that me and my husband truly are weird aliens - just don't tell anyone else.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I come prepared

Set 3.  I'm ready.  When I say I'm ready, I mean I have video already uploaded.  Oh yeah.  So that means, whatever date I set for the opening, there is no way in H-E-L-L it will be late.

  • Unless of course Blogger fails. 
  • Or there is a giant computer eating ant that invades Canada and eats my computer.  
  • Or a superhacker falls madly in love with me, decides to stalk me and wipes my computer while simultaneously scaring the beejeezus out of me and I have to go into the witness protection program. 
  • Or a massive hurricane lands on the Blogger server warehouse and lifts it into the sky where it will land in a place populated by very short, singing weirdos who like to wear flowers on their heads.  

All plausible outcomes I'm sure, but I'm willing to bet the odds are stacked in my favor.

In light of my surety, I'm going to say we'll have a book opening, right here, on Friday the 9th of September, 2011 at approximately 8:02 am Eastern Standard Time.  Be there.  Unless you're a giant computer eating ant of course.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Up and Coming

How does the reading go?  I have still barely gotten in to Frances Perkins but am ramping up now.  I finished Plastic Fantastik and will be posting up a review by Friday.  If you've had the chance to read it you could pop in and give your thoughts at that time.

We're on the doorstep of finishing set 2.  I'm thinking if the reading is going ok for you (all of you) we might post up the review and discussion on Monday?  Let me know what you think.

Thanks guys.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Have You Started?

Were you able to get a hold of the book:  The Woman Behind the New Deal?  If you were, did you start reading it yet?

I started just last night and three chapters in I'm liking it.  I will wait till the end to give a full opinion, but so far, an interesting woman to read about.

I wanted to ask if anyone  had the chance to read Plastic Fantastic?  I will admit I have not finished it.  I started it just before my family went into chaos.  Now that things are much more orderly, I'm picking that one back up too.

So that's it.  Wanted to check in.  Oh, and I'm so excited.  Did you realize that (I know I mentioned it before but saying it just sounds so thrilling) The Woman Behind the New Deal is the last book in the second set?  You know what that means!  Set three, baby.  Oh yeah.  Once we've finished this lovely biography, we'll be staring at ten beautiful new brown paper wrapped books and drooling to dig in.  Tell your friends.  Let's have a stupendous Brown Book Year!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Set 2 Book 10 Opening

Here it is as promised:

This book is a biography of Frances Perkins the Secretary of Labor for Franklin D. Roosevelt.  I'm really looking forward to reading about her and the influence she had over the decisions about the great depression and the new deal.  I hope you'll join in if you can!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When Sadness Abounds

I just finished reading a review of Toby Barlow's book Sharp Teeth in which the author himself commented on the review (nothing like the recent debacle of a certain self-published author who completely lost her cool over a negative review and started swearing at the blogger and commenters - not classy).  Toby Barlow discussed marketing and the free verse novel following the reviewers speculation that the book was essentially in verse form for marketability.  Mr. Barlow astutely pointed out the actual downfalls for an author of a free verse novel, or poets all together for that matter.  It is an older post from 2008 but I appreciated the albeit short but in depth discussion for several reasons, one of which being that in spite of common internet behavior norms, these people displayed the kind of class and thoughtfulness we ascribe to many great philosophers and debaters.  Read Here.

This of course brought me back here, a place I have of recent seriously neglected.  For whatever reasons, I shall hold private, I have been wallowing in my own sadness and have been mostly absent from internet places including this one.  However, I also recalled after reading this, how much we loved Toby Barlow's book and how much I love this space, and that made me sad too. Instead of continuing on this melancholy immobility, I would like to revive this poor limping little club.  I previously mentioned that I had already purchased ten books for the next set of brown books.  Why waste a good thing?  Let's dig in to the last book of set two, and then we can rev into set three.  I am hereby scheduling a book opening for Friday.  Book ten.

Please join me.  Let's read!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Truth About Santa Discussion

The Truth About Santa: Wormholes, Robots and What Really Happens on Christmas Eve

by Gregory Mone

genre: non-fiction educational (ok, maybe it's more like fiction for fun)

For every true believer, this book not only confirms your beliefs, but it arms you to prove them.  How many doubters have you met, spoiling the Christmas spirit during the holidays?  How many times have you wanted more fire power than "He's magic"?  Now you've got it.  Full scientific mapping of the methods of Santa to make all his rounds in one night, including the sleigh's true fire power, Santa's assistants and their use of time travel and wormholes, as well as the true role of the elves.  I would take exception to only one thing in this book:  the author's portrayal of Mrs. Claus.  Disparaging Santa's wife landed well out of place here and makes this reader wonder whether the author has some grudge specifically with her, perhaps she turned him down for a date once.  Or maybe he simply has a problem with women in general.  Whichever answer, it seems to me that in a book giving scientific fact, the personal lives of Mr. and Mrs. Claus are clearly unnecessary fields for writing material.

I would point out that the science in this book has been well laid out and backed up with interviews and references, giving this author weighty authority.  Readers may well trust his research when given names of leading scientists currently working on many of the technologies explained herein.  I am grateful for the wealth of information here that gives me the backing I've always longed for when defending the reality of the Jolly Elf.  I fully enjoyed this book as a great tour through the real North Pole.  Therefore, barring the minor slip from authorial protocol, taking fault with Mrs. Claus, this author has done a bang up job.

I offer one warning though.  This book is certainly not for children.  Given the defamation of Mrs. Claus character and some other highly revealing science, this book should only be read by adults.  The information in this book could easily be filtered through an adult to a child needing stronger explanations than the whole magic theory, however, do it carefully.  And on Christmas Eve, take your Santa Claus's life into consideration, stay in bed for Pete's sake.  And don't forget the cookies and milk.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Set 3!!!!

They came they came!  I think there is nothing more exciting (except possibly Christmas morning) than a pile of unread books just waiting to be opened!  I can hardly wait.  This set is going to be spectacular, fun, stupendous, informative, stimulating, interesting, you name it!

Remember we have just two more books in set 2 before we start up set 3.

I was planning to discuss The Truth About Santa on Friday.  Let me know if this won't work for you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


We've survived 2010. You're reading this, so I'm pretty sure I'm right. The book club slooooooooowed down so much it nearly came to a halt. However, we have nearly finished set 2 and I think that deserves a round of applause. Pat yourself on the back while you're at it. You're cool and you know it. Back to the book club. We have two books left beyond the current book we're working on. That means we should be able to finish up somewhere near the end of February or beginning of March. In light of this, I have ordered the next set of 10 books. In 2011 we've got a stupendous variety of genres coming up. But I'm not going to even hint at what they are because then it wouldn't be a brown book surprise! So get your reading gear out and join in.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I am still alive. It's true.

I'm thinking we should read a book! So. Let's open a new one. On Friday.

See you then!