Book reviews are on sabbatical…

There’s been a lull in my “Book in a Minute” reviews on the blog page. I switched libraries, then I had a shoulder injury, then I left the new library, then I tore up my knee and spent a couple of months catching up on Netflix. Now I’ve become a vice-president in charge of marketing and communications in my husband’s new engineering consulting firm. Because apparently there wasn’t enough chaos in my life.

Now things seem to be getting back on their usual rickety tracks and I’m finding more time to write (and think) about books again. Expect some new reviews soon and possibly even some news about some new writing from me in 2019–although possibly not under this pen name. Details when I’m able to share more with you!

As always, check out my Facebook page for news too.

 

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Nathan’s Back!

nathanasnathanOf course, in my heart, he never really went away. Despite that miserable final season of Castle,  I know he’d land on his feet. And of course he has.

For a number of years, the main reason people seemed to visit this site (other than book reviews and shameless self-promotion of my own books, of course) was to contemplate the magic that is Nathan Fillion. Don’t believe me? I have the stats to prove it. For a while, it seemed like Nathan should be paying me his publicist’s fee. But then I got busy with career stuff and kid stuff and marriage stuff and library stuff and kind of neglected Nathan for a while.

Today, I intend to start rectifying that mistake!

So here’s Nathan in a short fan film, I think it first popped up at San Diego Comic Con this month.  It’s Nathan as Nathan. Nathan Drake, that is. Apparently, Nathan Drake is a video game version of Indiana Jones. So maybe a male Lara Croft?

Who cares, it’s Nathan-licious and that’s what counts, right? More Nathan news to come, fellow Fillion fans…

Book in a Minute: Jane Eyre’s Sisters

I know, I know. It’s been a minute. What can I say? New job for me, husband who’s starting up his own new business, shoulder injury, moving — you name it, I’ve got the excuse. I can’t promise a lot more reviews in the future, but this was a fascinating book, so I thought it’d be worth taking a minute to break my long silence!

Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's StoryJane Eyre’s Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine’s Story by Jody Gentian Bower

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little slow and ponderous in places–kind of reads like it might have begun life as a doctoral thesis. But what an excellent, under-discussed topic!

As a writer, I’ve sat through countless workshops that try to stuff women’s lives into the “hero’s journey” format laid out by Joseph Campbell. The format was picked up by Hollywood script doctor Christopher Vogler and is widely touted as the only story worth telling.

Personally, I’m not entirely sure I buy the theory that all great stories must fit Campbell’s hero’s journey in the first place. I definitely don’t believe that all great stories about women fit that mold. So Jane Eyre’s Sisters by Jody Bower was a welcome discovery. I’m not sure I agree with all her conclusions, either, but I’m just thrilled that SOMEONE finally decided to analyze the great works of literature that resonate more with women than with men!

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Humanities Are US

If you want to show your support for the arts and humanities, Ramona Defelice Long has created some great posters you can use on your website, blog or social media. Check it out!

Ramona DeFelice Long

What are the humanities?

The humanities are language, literature, law, history, archeology, religion, ethics, art, heritage, traditions. The humanities make us feeling, thinking, creative, caring, compassionate human beings. Without the humanities, we become soulless creatures without a past or future.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is the government agency that spearheads projects to preserve and explore our national heritage.

Have you seen Ken Burns’ documentaries on The Civil War, Prohibition, the Roosevelts. Huey Long, the Dust Bowl, the National Parks, Baseball? Of his body of work so far–27 documentaries–15 have been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Do you know the Library of America, with support from the NEH, focuses on a writer of the week? This week’s writer is Ursula LeGuin.

Did you realize the NEH, since its inception 50 years ago, has published 7,000 books and, through its Chronicling America Project, catalogued and preserved…

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Steamed about STEM

Everything that’s wrong with the over-emphasis on STEM in today’s educational system, in one simple, badly thought-out ad campaign:

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No, Wells Fargo, being an actor or ballerina is not something you do because you CAN’T be a botanist or engineer. To be a really good dancer, singer, actor or musician takes as much training as (or more than) becoming a scientist. People who succeed in all of these fields, both science and arts, have one thing in common: they choose their paths out of love, not because some statistical trends and educational fads led their parents and teachers (and banks!) to badger them into a particular career.

Arts change lives in ways just as important as the sciences. if you don’t believe that, Wells Fargo, go ask a few engineers why they became engineers. A bunch of them will tell you it was because of watching shows like Star Trek or reading science fiction books by people like Isaac Asimov.

Why is everything in modern society so US versus THEM? People, can’t we all just get along?

 

Book in a Minute: The Pier Falls

The Pier Falls: And Other StoriesThe Pier Falls: And Other Stories by Mark Haddon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Relentlessly dark and disturbing, but so well-written, I kept reading anyway.

The first story, “The Pier Falls” is almost Hemingway-like in its straightforward, moment-by-moment description of a freakish tragedy at a beach resort.

“The Island” retells the myth of Ariadne with a gritty, heartbreaking realism.

But my personal favorite has to be “The Woodpecker and the Wolf,” which reads like the jaded, cynical flip side of Andy Weir’s The Martian. A female astronaut is part of a team stationed on Mars when things go horribly wrong. And then they get worse. Does she emerge triumphant, a la Mark Watney in Weir’s story? Read the book and find out.

But maybe don’t read it too close to bedtime. These are the kinds of stories that trouble the mind and plague the soul long after you’ve finished reading.

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Did Ya Miss Me?

a long absence semi-explained and a brief tribute to Bowie.

Egad! Five months! I must have really been busy, eh?

Well, kind of. We’re working on getting the house ready to sell – always a nightmare, but more so when a barfy, senile, half-blind cat and Dr. Sheldon Cooper are involved. To be honest, Dr. Cooper has been pretty low-maintenance these days (KNOCK WOOD VERY, VERY LOUDLY). It’s almost like he’s growing up or something…

I promise to get back to blogging more frequently, if only because we’ve put the house selling on hold until the fall, when Dr. Cooper will be (gulp) living in HIS OWN APARTMENT near the campus of the college he’s attending in the fall. Right now, it seems like said college has some meeting or orientation or pep rally every five minutes, so it’s been hard for any of us to focus on anything other than college in the Fall.

There’s also a trip to Toronto/Stratford/Niagara coming up soon. I’d be excited about it if it didn’t involve flying there.

I’ll also be back soon with some things to say about the horrible, horrible Castle conclusion and the sad kluster*ck of bad publicity that surrounded it – and what it says about the value placed (or not placed) on female stars of shows. (Yes, I’m also looking at you Sleepy Hollow.)

Last but not least, I am still trying to find the words to say how incredibly sad and broken up I am about the death of David Bowie. It’s embarrassing how sad it makes me. I never met the man, only saw him live in concert once, but he was truly an idol for me. When I heard the news on the morning of his death, I sat down and burst into tears as if my mom had just died again. I have played so much David Bowie music lately, that even Dr. Cooper (he who would prefer listening to the King’s College Choir) is starting to appreciate the guy’s oeuvre.

In fact, there’s nothing I can say that doesn’t pay tribute to him half as well as this does: