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Archive for June, 2008


Book: Knitting with Balls by Michael del Vecchio
Pages: 150
Entertainment Rating: 3/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 27/50
Pages Read Total: 4942/15,000

I got this book from the library in hopes of finding something to knit for my brother for Christmas (how forward thinking of me, right?) This book is wonderfully thorough! Much like the Stitch ‘n Bitch books this one has all the information you need from start to finish, but written in “man” language. Occasionally the wording is a little bit cheesy and over-the-top but it’s mostly endearing. I especially enjoyed the breakdown of different yarn weights, the tips and tricks (I never thought to use a card or post-it to mark my place in a chart!), the how to knit continental or english, and the bit in the back about altering patterns. The actual projects didn’t do much for me, but I did check them out, and they offer a great range from basic onward and cover a variety of techniques. This book would make a great gift to anyone (male or female) who’s looking to start knitting more. It’s also a good source for quick guy-gifts (unless that guy is my brother!)

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Book: Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 26/50
Pages Read Total: 4792/15,000

I actually finished this book a couple weeks ago, but somehow never got around to writing about it. A part of a series called The Circle Opens, I found this book as enjoyable as I found the preceding books so many years ago. Interestingly, this book was released in audio before it was printed. The actors did a lovely job, and the story is quite entertaining, if a bit over the top at times. I enjoyed this book, but I think much of my enjoyment was nostalgic. These are great YA books, but do not quite take that step beyond. Fun and quirky!

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Book: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 24/50
Pages Read Total: 4220/15,000


Book: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Pages: 572
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 2.5/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 25/50
Pages Read Total: 4792/15,000

Pullman is fabulous. Each time I experience his storytelling I think about it for days afterwards. While listening to this audiobook (narrated by Pullman himself) I was also reading Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and couldn’t help but draw parallels between the two. While I recognize that Brown and Pullman play in two different arenas I think that in terms of depth of character and thought-provoking plots Pullman definitely has the upper hand. While he does have the advantage of a trilogy’s worth of pages to build his story I feel he has been true to those pages and made use of each of them. He’s neat. He cleans up after himself, if you know what I mean. While Brown (miserably, albeit with some witty bits) shoves a weak love subplot in to attempt to add some depth to his action packed adventure, Pullman captures the anguish and complexity of what love really is, but without disrupting the story in any way. As I said, he’s neat.

I am by no means “hating on” Brown’s book. I read all 572 pages in a matter of days (a feat for someone as busy as me) and I hated putting it down each time I forced myself to sleep. Brown can tell a suspenseful story, to be certain. There are no good places to stop, and when it comes to plot twists he has a field day. Still I find that when I’m on the hunt for content the most surefire place to find it is in a Young Adult or even a children’s book. Somehow these authors have taken responsibility for the power they have to captivate young and old alike, and they have put it to good, thought-provoking use.

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Book: The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Pages: 345
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 23/50
Pages Read Total: 4220/15,000

Funke tells the captivating story of two orphan boys on the run from their evil aunt who make their way to Venice, their mother’s fairytale. The characters were quite commanding, and it was very easy to take sides. Almost too easy, I think. Unlike Nancy Farmer, Philip Pullman, or Madeleine L’Engle to name a few, Funke tells a good story, but doesn’t present much else. It was a fun, quick read, but did not have the subtly (or not so subtly) challenging subplots that many successful children’s authors manage. It is, as one Amazon review puts it, “a solid adventure story”. I’d put it with Harry Potter. Some coming of age, some teen angst, some wonderful friendship, and lots of bad guys and adventures.

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could make a lady out of me.

About an hour ago I got home from the fields and jumped in the shower. I washed my hair, bundled it all up in a towel, threw on a comfortable (read: horribly unflattering) house dress and sat down to write a thank you letter to my great uncle (to that extent I am a lady). Upon sealing and stamping this letter I headed out across the street to retrieve the day’s mail, and put my letter in the box. As I stood at the side of our busy road chatting on the phone with my mother I spied the vet, my dad, and his employee standing at the barn door talking. I laughed to my mother that I could not possibly look more absurd with my towel, flip flops (now am I talking about shoes or my unharnessed chest, because I swear I’m too young for this?!) and comfortable house dress.

Little did I know…

I crossed the street with no mishap, and as I grabbed the mail and reached up to insert my letter two giant trailer trucks blew by just feet from where I stood. It was the end, I tell you. I dropped the phone, and nearly dropped the mail as the wind from the trucks blew my towel tower over, my skirt flew up, and tried to rip my letter from my hand. My mother called to me from the phone in the grass, asking what happened. I tried to pretend it was nothing and no one had just seen my bare bottom, but as I turned around to cross the street again, towel hanging limply from my shoulders (along with my pride. Oh and speaking of hanging…can we talk about the girls again?), the employee was waving from the barn with a ridiculous grin on his face.

‘enry ‘iggins, do your worst.

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Book: Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 22/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

Like all of the No. 1 Detective Agency books, this one is good, clean fun. Like their main character Mma Ramotswe, Lady Detective, there is no BS or fluff here. Smith tells good, interesting and entertaining stories, and Lisette Lecat does a wonderful job reading them. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this book except that Smith never fails to entertain. The fact that I’ve been listening to them all out of order and still enjoy them immensely should tell you something.

For the record, the reason I’ve been listening to so many audiobooks is because I listen to them at work, and when you spend all morning in a field it’s nice to have company. I’m currently listening to The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman, which is much longer than the Smith books, so it will last a bit longer, I hope!

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Book: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 21/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

Sara Gruen has a vivid set of characters, to be sure. Jacob Jankowski recalls the most influential year of his life, one that began his career as a circus veterinarian, from his confines in a nursing home at the age of “90, or 93”. He alternates between venting his frustration at being trapped in an old man’s body, and vividly remembering his past experiences. I am 100% in love with this old man. Gruen did an exceptional job of wrenching my heart in every direction, aided no doubt by the fabulous voices of David LeDoux and John Randolph Jones. A moving, informative story not only about the circus but also about the Great Depression, growing old, and elephants. This book opened up an entirely unfamiliar topic for me, and I’ve enjoyed reading about it since I finished the book last week.

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