preetalina

Reviews
More
A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories

by

This book of short stories was hit or miss for me, though more hit than miss, especially the scifi stories.The opening story, "The Fog Horn," was haunting and beautiful. I really enjoyed it, though that's not too surprising since it involved the sea.One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless sure and said, "We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I'll make one. I'll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I'll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I'll make a sound that's so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I'll make me sound and an apparatus and they'll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.The Fog Horn"The April Witch" was definitely creepy, definitely Bradbury.I really enjoyed "The Wilderness" - it was unique and I dug the scifi aspect.They floated in an immense sigh above a town already made remote by the little space between themselves and the Earth, a town receding behind them in a black river and coming up in a tidal wave of lights and color ahead, untouchable and a dream now, already smeared in their eyes with nostalgia, with a panic of memory that began before the thing itself was gone.The Wilderness"The Big Black and White Game" really got to me."The Murderer" was really telling of our current times, and prescient considering it was written in the 1950s."The Great Wide World Over There" was pretty depressing.The morning blew away on a wind, the morning flowed down the creek, the morning flew off with some ravens, and the sun burned on the cabin roof.The Great Wide World Over There"The Great Fire" cracked me up!The second part of the book, sort of second part, which started with a letter from the author, seemed to be made up of mostly scifi stories, which I enjoyed overall. I thought the first story following the note (which had sexist notes but was written in the 60s so I guess I can give it a pass), "R is for Rocket," was really good (again in spite of the sexist tone)."The End of the Beginning," about going into space to build a space station, was full of brilliant writing.All I know is it's really the end of the beginning. The Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age; from now on we'll lump all those together under one big name for when we walked on Earth and heard the birds at morning and cried with envy. Maybe we'll call it the Earth Age, or maybe the Age of Gravity. Millions of years we fought gravity. When we were amoebas and fish we struggled to get out of the sea without gravity crushing us. Once safe on the shore we fought to stand upright without gravity breaking our new invention, the spine, tried to walk without stumbling, run without falling. A billion years Gravity kept us home, mocked us with wind and clouds, cabbage moths and locusts. That's what's so really big about tonight . . . it's the end of old man Gravity and the age we'll remember him by, for once and all. I don't know where they'll divide the ages, at the Persians, who dreamt of flying carpets, or the Chinese, who all unknowing celebrated birthdays and New Years with strung ladyfingers and high skyrockets, or some minute, some incredible second in the next hour. But we're in at the end of a billion years trying, the end of something long and to us humans, anyway, honorable.

Tonight, he thought, even if we fail with this first, we'll send a second and a third ship and move on out to all the planets and later, all the stars. We'll just keep going until the big words like immortal and forever take on meaning. Big words, yes, that's what we want. Continuity. Since our tongues first moved in our mouths we've asked. What does it all mean? No other question made sense, with death breathing down our necks. But just let us settle in on ten thousand worlds spinning around ten thousand alien suns and the question will fade away. Man will be endless and infinite, even as space is endless and infinite. Man will go on, as space goes on, forever. Individuals will die as always, but our history will reach as far as we'll ever need to see into the future, and with the knowledge of our survival for all time to come, we'll know security and thus the answer we've always searched for. Gifted with life, the least we can do is preserve and pass on the gift to infinity. That's a goal worth shooting for.The End of the Beginning

There was "A Sound of Thunder," which was essentially the main attraction of this book. A movie by the same name came out a few years ago - and it was pretty laughably terrible. The original story is much better (albeit much shorter as well)."The Exiles" started off really eh but I liked the ending."Here There Be Tygers" was interesting to consider; it could be a Doctor Who story. But the Doctor wouldn't approve of Chatterton, whom I wanted to die right away (though that's not a very Doctor-y thought either). His thoughts were also reminiscent of Avatar.You have to beat a planet at its own game," said Chatterton. "Get in and rip it up, kill its snakes, poison its animals, dam its rivers, sow its fields, depollinate its air, mine it, nail it down, hack away at it, and get the blazes out from under when you have what you want. Otherwise, a planet will fix you good. You can't trust planets. They're bound to be different, bound to be bad, bound to be out to get you, especially this far out, a billion miles from nowhere, so you get them first. Tear their skin off, I say. Drag out the minerals and run away before the nightmare world explodes in your face. That's the way to treat them."Here There Be Tygers"Frost and Fire" was a compelling story.The nightmare of the living was begun.Frost and FireEnjoyed "The Time Machine" - it was sweet despite the subject matter.War's never a winning thing, Charlie. You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms.The Time MachineI also enjoyed:- The Flying Machine- I See You Never- The Rocket- The Rocket ManI think this one is worth a read. Final rating: 3.5 stars.
Lost In My Own Backyard

by

I'm a fan of being prepared. As such, I've decided to start reading books about Yellowstone National Park in preparation for a trip next year. (Likely over half a year away, to be not really exact.) She who is prepared is - uhh... Something profound goes here. :)I thought this book would be a great choice to begin with. It's full of short vignettes of Tim Cahill's experiences in and around Yellowstone. He also discusses some history of the park, and overall, I felt that it was a great introduction for someone planning to visit. It was entertaining and informative but it's not a substitute for a guidebook, as other reviewers have noted, though he wasn't going for that. In the back of the book, he provides suggestions on other reading, including guidebooks that he likes. Of course, some of these will be out-of-date eight years after the book was published.After reading the book, I have a couple of places in mind that I definitely want to visit while I'm out there. This book served its purpose for me. I plan on rereading it after I come back from Yellowstone, not only to compare my experiences, but also to re-imagine his with pictures in my mind of what the places actually look like.
My Life in France

by and

I occasionally watch The Food Network. Okay, that's a lie. I can't stop watching Chopped, even though I yell at the contestants and judges all the time, and whenever Iron Chef America is on, I'll watch. But I'm not a foodie by any means. First off, I'm a vegetarian so my options are limited. And then, I'm pretty picky and have a few favorite cuisines that I usually stick to.I'm no fan of France. I'm also not a detractor, but I've never had an overwhelming urge to visit and it's not on my list of top places I must go before I die.All that taken into account, a few years ago I saw the movie Julie & Julia. I liked it, especially the Julia part. Prior to the movie, I had heard of Julia Child and knew she was a chef but didn't know much beyond that. With Meryl Streep's portrayal, I definitely felt like finding out more about her (and wished that the movie had been just Julia).I added My Life in France to my reading list at that time. Recently I came across it in my library's e-lending program and decided to check it out.I really enjoyed it. Though the book is a collaboration with Julia and her nephew, and I guess he technically wrote it (not sure about this point), it seems like her personality and style is definitely conveyed in the writing. Julia Child seemed like such as nice and fun person to get to know. While reading, I wanted to have her a friend.The book is not a straight autobiography per se. As Prud'Homme mentions in the intro, they wrote a lot of it based on her memories and Paul Child's letters. So while it follows a basic timeline, it does get a bit jumpy, going from topic to topic, sometimes without real transitions. This was disconcerting at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly.As the title suggests, the book chronicles Child's life in France, but it also goes beyond that, up to her husband's death. There is a LOT of France in this book (duh) and a LOT of cooking (double duh). Even though I'm not into either, I really liked it. It was fascinating to read her experiences and her thoughts. Her love of both France and cooking was extremely evident in the pages.What I really enjoyed the most, and what really showed off how cooking-obsessed Child was, was her dedication to the recipes, both on an emotional level, and surprisingly, on a scientific level. Child talked about how often she made every recipe, how she tried all kinds of variations, all kinds of ingredients, all sorts of variations on different pieces, to come to the best way to make something. That's ridiculous dedication! For one item (French bread, I think) she mentioned how she went through 200lbs of flour until the final recipe emerged.As a proponent of science, I just loved that!The other thing that was pretty awesome was that Child didn't come into cooking till she was in her 30s and her passion exploded after that. I think that's amazing and hard to imagine in today's world, where it seems like your whole life should be organized and you should know what your life goals are right as you come out of the womb!Julia Child was definitely an interesting and inspiring person. I'm glad I read this book and got to know her better. I think I'm a better person for it.
Love Saves the Day

by

This book is definitely recommended for cat lovers but I'm not sure how non-cat fans would take to it. The story is (mostly) told from the perspective of Prudence, a brown tabby, who's been uprooted from her home and her human and taken to live elsewhere. She doesn't realize what's happened and why she has to live with the daughter of her owner.It was a bit slow to start and it took some time to get used to the "cutesy" way the cat would explain things. Some stuff was beyond cutesy, venturing into the annoying territory. But the story picked up maybe midway through and I started to enjoy. One thing that I did find jarring was all of a sudden one of the chapters was from the perspective of another character or told from third-person. After a bunch of chapters from the cat's perspective, this felt like cheating even though the story probably couldn't have advanced the way the author wanted without this.One really interesting (and anger-inducing!) thing I learned from this book was the real story of a tenement building in NYC that was demolished in the 90s without any notice given to its residents. I thought that kind of thing only happened in other countries, and it was really astonishing to learn that it happened right here in the US, in the 1990s, in NYC! I'm planning to learn more about that incident. I liked that the book included an acknowledgements section in which the author listed some of the books that helped her write this one, such as books about music, the Lower East Side, and Alphabet City.I'm giving this 3.5 stars, mostly for the last 1/3 of the book, which I enjoyed.
Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo

by and

I learned recently that Lawrence Anthony died in March. I didn't know anything about him until I read this book, and even then, my knowledge was limited. Of course, it takes his death to learn more about him and find out that he was a respected leader for African wildlife conservation.I'd seen this book at my library many times and finally decided to check it out due to some zoo research I've been doing. It was a very quick and engaging read. The story is about how Anthony found out about the plight of the animals at the Baghdad Zoo during the Iraq invasion and decided that he had to go and help out at any cost.To say the book is eye-opening is probably an understatement. Not only do you get to witness the utter devastation at the Baghdad Zoo, but you also get to experience life in a war zone. It's no picnic, in case you were unsure. However, the dedication of Anthony, along with the perseverence of the Baghdad Zoo caretakers, and even the care and aid of the soldiers in the area was something fantastic to read about.The book moved me to anger, to tears, and sometimes even (the faintest, tiniest bit of) hope. No matter what you feel about war, I think this is a good read for animal lovers and people interested in zoos.
I Feel Bad About My Neck

by

When I learned that Nora Ephron died, I didn't know much about her. But as I read some obituaries and articles about her, I became more interested. I read her essay A Few Words about Breasts and I knew I had to read more.When I picked up this book from the library, the librarian told me I was to young to be reading it. Of course, I look younger than I am. I told her I had read the breasts essay and thought it was hilarious. She apparently really liked her writing.So I started the book with high expectations and at first, I was a bit let down. I didn't really identify with the first few essays (they didn't have much to do with age at that point). But I continued on, hoping it would get better.It actually did. About a third or halfway through the book, maybe around the essay Moving On, I started to enjoy it. I thought the later essays were poignant, well written, and humorous at times. And of course, I really liked her thoughts on reading.Ironically, it was the last essay, Consider the Alternative, wherein Ephron talks about getting old and dealing with death, that I enjoyed the most. Though I feel old, I'm nowhere near the age she was when writing it (64). Yet, I still identify with what she wrote and connected with it. It also made me think of my parents and in-laws, who are approaching that age, and what will happen as the years go by.It was also really poignant considering she died recently.Because of the latter half of the book, I'm bumping this up to 3.5 stars.
Dearie

by

My husband says I have weird tastes. As I mentioned in my review of the last Julia Child book I read, I have no obsession with food or France. I don't cook often. Yet, here I am, reading this extensive biography of Julia Child. I just don't like to (usually) limit myself!My ideas of Julia Child were fairly vague till now, then formed a bit more after reading My Life in France, but now they're fairly solid, though probably not quite comprehensive yet.The reason I say this is because this book, while very extensively covering Julia's life (what is it about Julia that we want to call her by her first name?), definitely displayed a certain - positive - bias. The author admits as much in his Sources and Acknowledgments section, wherein he says that he had "a powerful crush on her." I'm not sure if it was because of this, but at times I felt I wanted the other side of the story, such as with her rivalry with the "woman from Newton."It was really interesting to learn about her political views as well - how she was liberal, fought to bring women into the spotlight, and supported Planned Parenthood. Yet, she was seen as a homophobe up till a certain point in her life, and she railed against things like the Environmental Defense Fund and Rachel Carson. Alas, there is no black and white in the world - things are pretty much always grey.But overall, I enjoyed reading this and learning more about Julia's life. She was definitely an inspiring woman, quite a character, and someone without whom the US probably wouldn't be the way it is today.
How to Be a Woman

by

I mulled over this one a bit. I think Roxane Gay's review on GoodReads is a fantastic summation of how I felt about the book. In fact, you should probably just read that and not bother with anything I have to say in the next few paragraphs.I definitely found funny parts and select quotes that were on point. But it seems to me that there was a lot of over-generalization on the behaviors and characteristics of women and men. And the title doesn't really make sense - as Roxane says, this was definitely way more of a memoir than anything else.I'd heard critiques of Moran that she's used racist language (definitely some casual racism in this book!) and isn't really a supporter of LGBT rights, etc., so after reading the book, I set out to find out more. That led me down the Internet rabbit hole, as this kind of thing often does. I learned about all kinds of Internet fights, and even found out some Doctor Who related critiques. I had to stop myself because I seriously could have gotten lost in the tangles of the Interwebs.Overall, I think Moran is writing from a very specific viewpoint and generalizing her experiences to a whole wide world of women that quite obviously don't share her background. Perhaps if this were presented as more of a memoir, as "here's how I've managed to get around in the world," it might have worked better.
Walking to Vermont: From Times Square into the Green Mountains -- a Homeward Adventure

by

I picked this one up as part of my preparations for an upcoming trip to Vermont. Unfortunately, since Wren was walking to Vermont, there wasn't really much of the state in the book. However, I did end up enjoying it.Wren is a retiring journalist - a foreign correspondent - for the New York Times, and decides to literally walk into his retirement. He is walking from his apartment in NYC to his house in Vermont. This involved walking through the city and its suburbs and then walking part of the Appalachian Trail.Throughout the book, Wren reflects on his experiences as a foreign correspondent, comparing moments in current time with the past. It was really interesting to read his stories.I also liked his descriptions of all the excesses of Americans, which rang true. Especially enjoyed this this tidbit he added: The Chinese describe such excess as "drawing a snake and adding feet." But sometimes, he definitely came off as entirely "you kids get off my lawn!" I.e., that crotchety old man you want to avoid. (Though I can't say I'm not getting there myself!)Even though this didn't really have much to do with Vermont, I'm glad I picked it up. I need to read more books about the Appalachian Trail (and the Pacific Crest Trail, the West Cost equivalent).Quotes I liked:- I slept no worse than anyone else might after trudging eleven miles over mountains, downing three beers, grilled salmon, a chicken quesadilla, and a banana pudding pie, then stretching out on a queen-size inner-spring mattress in a darkened room in front of C-SPAN. (p111)- Food writers can be a pretentious, irritating lot, and no more so than when they disparage chocolate desserts as sinful or decadent. Sin and decadence are words that define the human condition, not desserts. Sinful? Dropping poison gas on the Kurds when you're the despot of Iraq is sinful. Decadent? Ordering forty-dollar entrees and sixty-dollar bottles of wine in an exclusive restaurant in Manhattan is decadent, when the less privileged are sleeping on the grates outside. Chocolate is merely delicious, and what's the sin in that? (p121)- Today, American-style adolescence remains a luxury that much of the world still cannot afford. (p198)- Nostalgia's flaw is its selectivity. (p266)
The Matchmaker of Perigord

by

I'm a bit torn on this one. I absolutely loved Julia Stuart's second book, The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise, which I read earlier this year. Loved it so much that it's one of my favorites. I really fell in love with the story, the characters, and Stuart's writing style.This was her first novel and I guess it suffered a bit. I didn't find myself engaged by the story nor did I like the characters very much (actually found most of them annoying). I forced myself to get through the whole thing just to get it out of the way.To be sure, this book is also full of clever phrases and lines that will make you chuckle. But I just didn't connect with it emotionally like I did with the second novel. I wonder if I had read this one first, if it would have changed my views at all. Would I have liked it? Or would I have felt the same and never even attempted Stuart's second book?As it is, I'm glad I read The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise first. If Stuart does come out with another book, I will probably check it out, hoping that her writing and storytelling have continued to improve.
scribd