Wednesday, July 28, 2010

wherein i can't recall a real topic so resort to little ones

I confess...I have lots of ideas for very interesting posts. Unfortunately, these are rarely when I'm near my laptop. So, little bullet points it is...
  • I post my reviews from the HarperCollins promo books here but have other ratings and some shorter reviews on other reads at I'm Clg1213, should you be interested. My library has 300+ books since I was/am a dork and already had a log of all my book before I joined the site and was able to upload it (also explains most being unrated and unreviewed).
  • I've seen a couple old friends since I've been back in PA. It is fascinating to see how people turned out...these are folks that tried to teach me to shoot a basket in fourth grade . Somehow they went and became grown-ups.
  • I enjoyed Inception more than I expected to and liked the way it used special effects. Just felt a bit different from all the movies lately that add flash for flash's sake. Toy Story 3 is still my favorite movie of the summer (even in my cheap 2d viewing).
  • Why do I have pimples and dry skin at once? It doesn't seem fair.
  • I'm happy Mad Men is back. Alternative season timing has benefits. I am, however, sad that Jeopardy heads to reruns next week. I need my Jeopardy...though I never miss Alex since I think he's a total jerk.
  • I am feeling impatient for news on the job front. I feel very unanchored (my blog, my prerogative to make up words) lately and I don't see fixing that until I get a job and can settle in a new life.
  • In other emotional news, I'm in an angry phase. I'm also building back my triceps so watch out world!
  • is a great source for amusement. I haven't read as many recaps lately (though they are often hilarious), but like reading some of the forums...particularly the commercial-focused ones.
  • Still having back trouble and the hip/leg is acting up more too. The PT warned these injuries take a year and a half to really resolve. I am so not that patient. At my mom's urging, I tried her chiro (umm...sorry Dad...she insisted and I was ready to protest if he tried anything that seemed wrong). He only tried some pressure cracking or creaking or snapping...only about 5-10min. I had rebound pain after Monday and really no relief. I went again today and will see what happens. He was very upfront that he might help the hip, wouldn't help the back, and that I'd know in two or three visits if it was worth coming back.
  • I think PA is conspiring to keep people from drinking by only selling poor quality wine. I'd be fine with the State Store idea (MA didn't have wine in most grocery stores either), but the state clearly limits what the stores stock and I find the choices disappointing. Y'all know my need for red wine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

a truly wonderful read

I confess...this type of book is the best part of the HarperCollins deal. I'd never have picked it up on my own but I loved every moment.

  • The Bucolic Plague; How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
I tend to be a fiction reader so I don't open memoirs with the highest of hopes. This book, however, exceeded all expectations and was a true pleasure to read.

The story follows two urban men as they discover and attempt to run a mansion in a small town that time has passed by. It doesn't glamorize farm life or have any sort of "holier than thou" air. It shows both the challenges of rural life as well as the difficulties of urban life. Along the way, it shows how life can affect relationships and how we press on through.

The prose is wonderful. It captured me and pulled me through. I rarely feel like I can't put a book down but I wanted to devour this one whole. Absolutely recommend both for laughs and for lessons in true meaning and life goals.

(This review based on a copy provided to me by HarperCollins).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I confess...I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of "normal".

I was well into my twenties before I realized that most people didn't need an hour between switching out the lights and falling asleep. I also didn't realize that other women didn't want to curl up and cry once a month or need to get up every couple of hours to first few nights of their period to avoid a mess (TMI, I know). I was shocked to learn some people never get headaches and that most don't get them pretty much daily (or at least weekly). These all seemed normal to me.

On the flip side, it is normal to me for words to flow pretty easily and to feel like I have to slow myself when reading to avoid spending a fortune on books. Or to see the ending of movies coming and to be able to figure out a riddle quicker than I can recall a basic fact.

I started thinking that maybe the key to understanding "normal" was about qualitative and quantitative distinctions. But that didn't really work. You can put together a figure for the average number of minutes it takes someone to fall asleep just as you can come up with the average temperature for a healthy person.

Thinking further, I realized that understanding "normal" is really about the sample size. "Normal" for me may not be the same as "normal" for a random sample of 100 women. Which seems to make "normal" both more and less isn't a basic fact that stands alone, it needs context. But that same context gives it a greater fullness and greater meaning. My "normal" speaks to me. It explains me. It isn't the same as "average 100 women" normal. But that doesn't diminish either. It enlightens them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

two more reviews

I's time for more book reviews, once again brought to you by the folks at HarperCollins who are helping keep me in books.

  • A Fierce Radiance, by Lauren Belfer

A Fierce Radiance opens in the days following Pearl Harbor but the more immediate historical context is the development of penicillin and similar drugs. With this background, the novel develops both a love story and a murder mystery among a photographer, her family, and players in science and government looking for a medical breakthrough.

I'd give this 3.5 out of 5 if I could. I really enjoyed the background story much more than the feature plot. It feels unimaginable that just 70 years ago a simple scraped kneed could be fatal due to infection. This context story held me much more than the more personal events affecting the photographer and others in her world. I didn't really care to found out what happened in the love story or with the mystery...I obviously knew that penicillin would eventually be productive, but that journey interested me more than the other plots.

I did find the writing style enjoyable. It was a fluid read, not overly difficult but requiring some level of attention. The shifting of focal characters from chapter to chapter was a bit confusing a few times but generally worked and held my interest more than a traditional narrational style might have.
  • Five Days Apart, Chris Binchy

I don't enjoy giving negative reviews. I took enough education courses to want to find something to praise in every book. Unfortunately, this one really did nothing for me and all I can say is that it was a really quick read so I didn't have to endure it for long.

The basic plot is Shy Boy spots Girl. Shy Boy points her out to Friend. Friend (maybe misunderstanding) dates Girl. Relationships evolve. In a way, it might be termed Boy Lit...more of a guy tale but in the Chick Lit mold. I'm picky with my Chick Lit though (I like some but it's a tough bar) and this didn't cut it for me. I never grew to care much about the characters...I don't need to "like" a protagonist but I need to feel compelled by at least one character and that didn't happen there. I do see the tie to Nick Hornby in terms of the simple narrational style, but it didn't pull me in and I can't see myself recommending it for any type of reader.

Friday, July 16, 2010

not quite a real post

I confess...I feel brave and proud.

I sent off an essay on binge eating to a contest by Glamour magazine. They tend to pick much "bigger" personal trauma tales (last year's involved abuse by a grandfather). But I like that I sent something (and I offered to revise to fit another type of story).

I'm not posting it here, hence not quite a real post...but just sharing.

I'm toying with thoughts on the concept of "normal"...partly stemming from the fact that I didn't know until I was in my twenties that most folks don't need a good hour to fall asleep. I'm still a bit in hiding but maybe I'll get motivated soon.