...or why books and tv rank higher than sleep

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: The Witch of Hebron

This is my very first blog tour, which I am excited about. Thanks again Jen & Lori @ Crazy Book Tours for your patience with this newbie.

Kunstler, James Howard. The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel. Atlantic Monthly Press. Sept 2010. 336pp. ISBN 0802119611


Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor. In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But it’s no pastoral haven. Wars are fought over dwindling resources and illness is a constant presence. Bandits roam the countryside, preying on the weak. And a sinister cult threatens to shatter Union Grove’s fragile stability.

In a book that is both shocking yet eerily convincing, Kunstler seamlessly weaves hot-button issues such as the decline of oil and the perils of climate change into a compelling narrative of violence, religious hysteria, innocence lost, and love found.


Reading has been a chore for me lately. It takes me months to read a book now because the only time I can read for pleasure is on the treadmill at the gym twice a week; a total of maybe 40min a week reading. I read 4-5 hours a day for school. I miss reading for pleasure more than you can possibly imagine.

One of my guilty pleasures are dystopian books, so I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Witch of Hebron. I was concerned because it was a sequel to  World Made by Hand, which I hadn’t read. I don’t like starting midway through a series because I am forever thinking I am missing it out on something. That actually wasn’t the case here, I am pleased to say. Yes, it takes place in the same town and ties up some loose ends, but the central characters and the major plotlines/relationships are all recapped really well here.

In Witch of Hebron, the standout hero character amongst the ensemble is Jasper Copeland. He is the son of a doctor, and at 11 wants to strike out on his own as a doctor. This is completely against the wishes of his parents, who want him to finish school like any other parent. In post-apocalyptical society there is seemingly no need for a formal education, after all there is no government anymore. There are no laws saying he needs to obey his parents, and he needs to stay in school. The reality of a post-apocalyptical world is best experienced through Jasper’s adventures. During the book, Jasper runs away and it is his experiences that truly send the message home that the world is different beyond the obvious reasons. And his medical adventures while on his own that really make the book so chilling for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the appendectomy performed in this book was disturbing and so incredibly well researched and written.

My only real complaint about the book was the number of pop culture references. On one hand, they do serve a purpose to make the reader feel as though the book takes places in the not so distant future. On the other hand, I think it will date the book and cause it to lose impact over the years. That said, this is a tremendously impactful book and I can’t wait to read World Made by Hand.

Rating: 4 eyeglasses.


    Why oh why do I go to The Book Barn and buy a bag full of books when I know I can't read them for another 6 weeks? It's one thing to buy a bunch of books and know I have a lot to read all ready, but at least there is the hope one of them will skip to the head of the line because the mood struck me to read that book. It's another thing entirely when I just buy books that have no hope of being read until the semester is over and the review books are completed.

   I do have good news though. I am about to post a review for The Witch of Hebron, and I have only 30 pages left to the latest Snipesville Chroncile: A Different Day, A Different Destiny (of which I will be giving away 2 shiny copies!) So thanks for sticking around - I had no idea just how hard this semester was going to be for me. I am reading other blogs faithfully, even if I don't have time to comment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When I'm Not Reading

It's Thursday and I thought it would be a good way to use Missie's meme from The Unread Reader to explain why I haven't been around much.

 When I'm not reading, this is what my week is like on average:

Monday: I get up super early to make the hour and fifteen minute commute from my boyfriend's house to work. It's 40miles but lots of traffic. I spend my lunch hour doing reading for my classes, and when I leave work at 5 I either go to acupuncture (has helped me tremendously), or I go to class and go over my cataloging homework before our weekly quiz. Usually they let us out of class late and I get home around 10:30. I'm then up until 1 or 2 working on my reading for Tuesday night's class.

Tuesday: Fortunately I have a shorter commute during the week. This is a leave early day for me because I am in class from 3:30 until 9:30 (two classes). This is my very busy day because of the insane amount of reading for these classes (historical anthropology and archives). I get home around 10:30 and once again have about 2-3 hours of reading to do for the next day.

Weds: another leave early day for me. Once again my lunch hour is spent reading and writing for tonight's class - The Crusades. If I don't have a meeting (I'm very active in 2 student organizations and this has been a tremendously busy month for us) then I am typically home by 7:30. Sometimes I have book club, or sometimes I meet up with friends. I try to be home by 10:30 again because I have to do work on my online class: Public Librarianship.

Thursday. A full work day for me and no classes. Fortunately Thursdays are quiet at work so I can catch up on my online class if I get through my work in time. After work I go to my Grandmother's for "dinner and a story" and then it's home for laundry and reading. I average about 200-300 pages of reading a night for school. This is not light reading either - I'm taking a lot of notes and I am wring a lot of papers. I'm also in the process of packing since I will be moving in the next few months.

Friday: Another full day with no classes. Fridays are a lot like Thursdays for me, but this is the day I try to get some down time. If I don't go to karaoke with my friends then I work on packing and just plain zoning out in front of the tv with the dogs.

Saturday: I am starting a 1 credit internship/project for my archives class that involves me spending any free time for the remainder of the semester on saturday mornings working on this project. Then it's off to my boyfriend's house for the weekend for some downtime (that strangely results in me cooking for him for the week). And of course I have to make time on Sundays to do my homework!

   So as you can see, I haven't had very much time to read (or at all really). I'm realizing that I really took on way too much and I'm overwhelmed. I am so overwhelmed that I am flaking out, which is completely unlike me and I apologize to anyone that I've caused aggravation with because of my being over-extended. I fully expect to be my normal rational and dependable stuff by Jan 1.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Banned Book Week - Guest Post by Lily from Lillium's Realm

I couldn't let banned book week go by without having someone do a guest spot for me on their favorite banned book. It just so happens this is also my favorite banned book.

Lily from Lillium's Realm was so nice to write a post on To Kill A Mockingbird for me. Without further ado:

   Have you ever judged someone on the way they look? How about that guy behind you in line covered in tattoos and facial piercings? Or that lady with 8 kids and one in the belly? Or even that little old blue haired woman covered in cat hair? Or what about that group of young men just hanging out in front of the mall? When you walked past them did you hold your purse a little tighter? Try to keep an eye on them out of the corner of your eye?

  Everyone would like to say “I don’t judge people!” They lie. We all judge, all the time. It is one of the first things our parents teach us as children…remember “I’m not taking you to store with me, you’re dirty.” Or “You can not wear that to church.”?? We are all judged and we are all judging all the time, but the content of what we judge each other on is often the issue.

  In Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” we are introduced to Jem and Scout, the young children of Atticus Finch. The novel is set in 1930’s Alabama. The small town of Maycomb is suffering but Jem and Scout (who is really named Jean Lousie) don’t feel the Depression as bad because their father is a successful lawyer. As we are introduced to them we see the children acting like children do. Jem and Scout meet a new boy named Dill and Dill finds fascination with picking on local shut in, and in child pack fashion they do too. The main story line most remember though is the story of Tom Robinson, a local black man accused of raping a white woman. Unfortunately the town is mostly white and heavily prejudiced. Atticus agrees to defend the man, because he knows he is innocent. One of the scenes that sticks in my mind the most is where the night before the trial Atticus and his children face down a mob who is there to lynch Tom. Even though the mob is dispersed the trial begins and everyone is forced to inspect facts, but unfortunately this was not a Perry Mason ending with a nice bow on top.

This story has always stuck with me, always. I read this book when I was 12, and I was told I should not be reading “such filth” by my English teacher, no less. She told me the story was more apt to have me viewing my classmates by their race and not as people. I was outraged, as it was well known I had blonde hair and blue eyes and my family was from Germany. Want to talk about nasty? Look like me with my background the day after they show Shindler’s list in class. Good times. Anyways, she demanded I give my book to her and when I refused she wrote me up for insubordination. My dad framed the referral and put it up on the wall. There were amazing quotes from the book and ones I still use today. I actually wanted to name my son Atticus, but that was a big NO GO with his father. So to wrap this up I am going to close with my top quotes from the book:

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ Atticus

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."

"There is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is the court."

"Pass the damn ham, please."

"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."

"The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

and finally my fave line from the entire book:

"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movie Review: The American

 I was so excited to see The American. The trailer made it seem like it was along the lines of The Bourne Identity only with George Clooney. How can you go wrong with that?
  I was feeling a bit down and figured this would be an excellent cheer up. I should have known since I didn't recognize the director or any of the cast that something was off about the movie, but again- George Clooney was in it. Oh George how you disappointed me. This was a foreign movie!
   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy foreign movies. I just like to know in advance that's what I'm watching. What was wrong with the movie was the lack of plot and character development. We don't know who George is. We don't know why he has an interest in butterflies. We don't know why people are after him. It was a jumbled mess that didn't translate well into American cinema and not even George Clooney's charm could fix it.

Rating: (It pains me to say this) 1 eyeglass

Monday, September 27, 2010

Check out my Guest Post

Amelia from The Authoress, one of my favorite blogs, asked me to do a guest post for her on a memorable book. I spent a lot of time going back and forth trying to decide which one to write about (I almost chose The Little Prince) until I decided on Anne of Green Gables.

 Please check out The Authoress, and my guest post which is dedicated to my very best friend that I miss dreadfully since she moved away.

Thanks again Amelia for asking me. I had a great time going through my book memories. :-)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review - The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

First: An apology for being absent. I'm taking 5 classes this semester, plus a full time job, and some personal issues. I haven't had much time to breathe the past couple of weeks, let alone actually blog. Now that I have a grasp on my schedule, I hope to post twice a week if not more.

 Coming up I have a fantastic give-away and review of the next installment of The Snipesville Chronicles by Annette Laing. I should be finished reading it very soon and so far it's even better than the first! Stay Tuned!

Now on to the review...

Gregory, Phillipa. The Red Queen. Simon & Schuster NY. August 2010. 382pp. ISBN1416563725
Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.

   I didn't know how Philippa Gregory was going to tackle a woman who was so disliked, who history has virtually ignored. This is a very cold and calculating woman with very little for the reader to sympathize with. And Gregory doesn't seem to make any effort to turn her into a sympathetic character. I appreciated that because doing so would throw away any ounce of credible historical fiction.

  I found the book to be slow going at first, and much more violent than The White Queen. For those expecting it to be as romantic as the Gregory novels normally are will be disappointed. This is a woman that is too pious for something as human as love. Still, it was an interesting look at a period of time and a figure most historical fiction writers ignore. It served as a good follow up to The White Queen and I'm looking forward to the next in the trilogy.

  For those interested in reading more about the war of the roses and the characters in this book, I highly recommend The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

Rating: 3 and a quarter eyeglasses