Sunday, February 26, 2012

You know, I could totally rock a hat like that.

I found this cute hat pattern on Pinterest.

Anthro Inspired Hat

 I thought it would be baby-sized and cute enough for Zoey. Then it turned out to be really big, so I sent it to Jamie. She needs warm clothes, right?

Secretly, I had a hard time with the flower. Yeah, it looks so simple in that picture, but it was really complicated in the pattern. So I went and found a different flower pattern. And it turned out bigger... Which just makes the hat cuter, right?

That's right. When I was your age, television was called books.

Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain

Driving Mr. Albert by Michael Paterniti

The Story:
Paterniti is a journalist who hears a rumor/urban legend that some guy in Kansas has Albert Einstein's brain floating in a jar in his basement. One thing leads to another and he winds up meeting the man who does in fact, keep Einstein's brain in a jar. Again, one thing leads to another, and Paterniti offers to drive Thomas Harvey across the country to California, so he can meet with Evelyn Einstein -- Albert's granddaughter. The book is the true story of their trip.

The review:
The idea is fascinating. A pathologist did an autopsy on Albert Einstein, removed his brain, and then stuck it in a jar of formaldehyde and took it home. Thirty years later, he feels some guilt over this, so he decides to take the brain to the living descendant.

But that isn't really the story that Paterniti tells. He is focused on himself and his role in the trip rather than on Harvey or Einstein. We do get a lot of information about Harvey -- in which he seems like a total wacko and not completely there -- and a lot of information about Einstein -- some of it is flattering, about how he completely rewrote our understanding of science and the world, and some of it is about how he was a wacko. Along with the information about Einstein, we get information about his estate currently, the man who controls the Einstein image, how often Einstein is used for marketing, etc, etc.

With all this going on in a 200 page book, it is really jumpy and incomplete. Paterniti moved to so many different topics, that at one point I was looking at the page and thinking "What the heck is he talking about?" And despite the short length of the book, it was really slow to read.

Final review:
I was disappointed, so I don't really recommend it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

For the time would soon come when hobbits would shape the fortunes of all.

I went out for sushi yesterday.

And got a fortune cookie. (Yeah, what kind of sushi place gives fortune cookies?)

But I got a kick out of the fortune:
"Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you."

So heads up people: May 11.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A book hasn't given me this much trouble since Waldo went to that barber pole factory.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Story:
The narrator is a dog named Enzo, who tells the story of his owners and the story of his own life.

The Review:
I don't like dogs. Actually, the truth (which as a 30 year old, I can finally admit) is I'm afraid of dogs. It's just like being afraid of spiders or snakes. It's not something that is controllable.

So I was really prepared to not like this book at all.

And yet I did.

Because really, how do you not like a narrator like this:
"My two favorite actors are, in this order: Steve McQueen and Al Pacino. Bobby Deerfield is a very underappreciated film, as is Pacino's performance in it. My third favorite actor is Paul Newman, for his excellent car-handling skills in the film Winning, and because he is a fantastic racer in his own right and owns a Champ Car racing team, and finally, because he purchases his palm fruit oil from renewable sources in Colombia and thereby discourages the decimation of vast tracts of rain forest in Borneo and Sumatra. George Clooney is my fourth favorite actor because he's exceptionally clever at helping cure children of diseases on reruns of ER, and because he looks a little like me around the eyes."

The story is a little sad, but still had moments that surprised me into laughing out loud. It was a super fast read. And a good light and fluffy story to stick between some rather heavy stuff.

Oh, and if you saw the dog on the cover and thought "Ew, Marley and Me" (which I will proudly state I never read or watched), allow me just to say this is a very different kind of dog.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Did you start that new book?

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Story:
The daughter of an illusionist is pitted against another young student in a magical challenge. As they grow up, they learn more magic, and discover that the venue for their challenge is Le Cirque des Reves -- the Circus of Dreams. They play out their challenge by adding tents with amazing magical features to the circus, like an ice garden, and a cloud room. 

Because of the magic, the story is considered fantasy, but it is not Tolkien-style fantasy set in an entirely new world with dwarves and elves. The story takes place in our world -- quite a bit in London and a town in New England, and with entirely human characters. So partly it is about how magic operates in a world that doesn't believe in magic. 
The review:
I really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down, I was staying up late to keep reading. And if you read my last reviews, you know it has been a while since I've gotten that into a book. So I was really happy that I read this one. 

I have two negatives, and one is only a slight negative, and the other isn't even about the book mostly. So first negative, I wish there had been more to the ending. It felt a little rushed and just boom, the end. (Obviously I can't tell you more than that). I was satisfied with the ending, I just wish there was more. 

The other negative is with the layout of the story. It flips back and forth between a lot of different time periods. A surprising aspect is it actually has chapters where it addresses the reader -- totally uses "you" -- and describes how "you" walk through the circus and what "you" see while "you" are there. I don't think I've ever seen a book do that before. So it flips back and forth between several different times, and you have to pay attention to the chapter headings to know when you are and where you are. Then you are trying to piece together the progression of the story, despite the back-and-forth of the narrative. I know that would be really frustrating for some readers, but for me it's not. My frustration was because I was reading it on the Kindle, and I couldn't just flip back to the previous chapter's chapter heading to see how far in time we skipped. It was really a function of the decreased flipability of pages in the Kindle. 

An excerpt:
"It is important," the man in the grey suit interrupts. "Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that." He takes another sip of his wine. "There are many kinds of magic, after all."

Seriously? How do you not love a book like that?

Final word:
Read this book. I think you'll love it.