Florida Trip

Friday, May 22, 2015

Happy Early Memorial Day and more importantly Towel Day!
The Huz and I are taking a vacation in Florida. 
We will hopefully be fully unplugged from work 
and relaxing this week. I'll be back in June!
Photo by moi.

I Remember Nothing

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Remember Nothing  
by Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron, screenwriter of “When Harry Met Sally” and “You’ve Got Mail” has written a few memoirs over the years. This one dwells on a few thoughts towards the end of her life. She talks about getting older, how things have changed, etc. Ephron’s meandering essays are steeped in her recognizable sense of humor. 

My favorite part was a list of things she will and won’t miss when she’s gone…

I decided to make my own list (below). What would be on your's?

Wordless Wednesday: New Zealand

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Zealand Countryside
More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.

Asterios Polyp and Berlin

Monday, May 18, 2015

Asterios Polyp
by David Mazzucchelli

Asterios is an architect who escapes from his life one day when his apartment burns down. We watch his life fall apart in flashbacks. He falls in love and then slowly alienates his wife Hana. We watch him become an auto mechanic and learn about his stillborn twin brother.

This graphic novel didn’t have the same emotional depth as others I’ve read, but it’s one of the most cerebral GNs I’ve found. It discusses the duplicity of a person’s character and highlights the ways we can see the people we love every day and yet not really see them. It’s beautifully told with unique fonts for each characters’ voice.

BOTTOM LINE: Wonderfully drawn and intellectually stimulating.

 A couple quotes I loved from the book...

Berlin: Part 1 
by Jason Lutes

Set in Berlin from September 1928 - May Day 1929, this graphic novel charts the rise of the Third Reich. At times it was hard to follow because there are lots of characters that are drawn in a very similar way. The story deals with the communists in Berlin at that time, the growing Nazi party, and prejudice against Jews. Two of the main characters are a journalist named Kurt Severing and artist, Marthe Muller, who meet by chance on a train. 

BOTTOM LINE: I will definitely read the next segment “Part 2” as the book ends on a cliffhanger. I enjoyed it, especially the historical side, but didn’t love it. 

“One thing I love about this city is the way all of our different worlds rub shoulders every day.”

Images from Asterios Polyp and Berlin

The Two Sisters Bookstore

Friday, May 15, 2015

 I love discovering new bookstores and this one was such a treat. The Two Sisters is nestled in the midst of Richmond, Indiana's historic Depot District. It's packed with shelves of books but still manages to have an open airy feel. There are both used and new books, including some lovely Penguin editions. I could have spent all day wandering through the shop.
Of course I couldn't leave without a few goodies. I found three classics that just had to come home with me. Their prices were really reasonable and I had a hard time keeping it to only three books. I bought a 1924 copy of "When We Were Young" by A.A. Milne, a copy of “Winesburg, Ohio” by Sherwood Anderson and a beautiful edition of Gene Stratton-Porter’s “Michael O’Halloran” because I loved “A Girl of the Limberlost” so much!
There were great little signs identifying each each section of books (above). There was also a huge selection of tea at the front of the shop. 
One of the best parts of the whole shop is hidden in the back in the children's section. There's a Harry Potter nook under the stairs!!! There was a complete set of the books, a photo of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, a Gryffindor scarf and glasses. If I were younger I might have curled up on the little bed with a book!
There were many literary themed gifts in the shop as well, coffee mugs, etc. I loved all the unique details that popped up around each corner. One sign on the fireplace mantle (above) said "Monthly Movie Crush: Benedict Cumberbatch". I mean really, tell me you don't want to be friends with these ladies! I loved everything about the shop and can't wait to visit again.

Photos by moi.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves 

I tend to love most of what Gaiman writes, but this one fell a bit flat for me. The concept is fascinating, but the execution was a bit off. The adventure story follows Joseph, a normal boy who walks straight into another world. 

He discovers and entire army of different versions of himself from other worlds. There’s Jerzy: from a world with feathers where women lay eggs, Josef: who is really strong, Jai: who meditates and has a huge vocabulary, Jakon: a wolf girl, Jo: a girl with wings, and J’r’ohoho: a centaur. 

The army trains at a boot camp run by the “old man”. Their goal is to, “Protect the Altiverse and stem the tides of magic and science.” That’s a heavy order for the newly inducted Joseph to wrap his head around.

There are two different groups of bad guys. The Binary, who travel on gravitons, freeze the walkers to use them to fuel their ships. Then there are the HEX folk. They use magic to boil walkers and use their souls to power interplane travel. Both sets of villains were a bit cartoonish. In a lot of ways, this novel reminded me of the Percy Jackson series.

BOTTOM LINE: At times there was just too much going on at once. We bounced back and forth so quickly that it was hard to feel attached to the characters. Apparently it started out as an idea for a TV show and I was left wondering if that might have been a better fit for this particular story. I do think this might be a perfect fit for teenage boys.

"I wanted to spare her what I knew: that reality can splinter like a hammered mirror. That it can happen to anybody."
"Sometimes war is necessary to teach us the value of peace."

Wordless Wednesday: Atlanta Skyline

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Atlanta Skyline 
More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tess of the D'Urbervilles 
by Thomas Hardy

Rarely have I ever had such a visceral reaction to a book. I have read a few other Hardy novels and so at this point I expect tragedy. But this one still blew me away. It broke my heart in so many ways, but Hardy’s writing made the whole experience oddly beautiful, despite the inevitable disaster that you know if coming.

The brilliance of his writing is just breathtaking. The scenes he creates are incredibly beautiful. Alec is such a brilliant villain because of the very fact that he is so relatable to different men. As Hardy himself says, Tess’ own male ancestors probably did the same thing to peasant girls. It's so horrifying and common at the same time and Alec has no real understanding that what he's doing is wrong. He knows what he wants he decides he's going to take it. There's no consideration for anything else.

Tess’ family is poor, but they discover they are descendants of a wealthy local family. She is sent to befriend the family and see if they can improve her own family’s situation. She meets Alec D'Urbervilles and soon her life is changed forever. I can’t say too much more without spoilers, except that it’s a powerful book, but not a cheery one. 


I’ve never hated a character as much as I hated Alec. He is a rapist, a manipulator, and worst of all, he honestly doesn’t think he’s done much wrong in the first half of the novel. At one point Alec says something about how Tess shouldn’t have worn a certain dress and bonnet because it made her too pretty. The “you were asking for it” mentality was present even back then when dress was far more modest. It was so frustrating and infuriating. He manipulated every situation, forcing her to be alone with him, to rely on him for help, etc.

His condescending nicknames made my skin crawl. When he calls her “Tessie” or “my little pretty” it made me nauseous because she was shrinking away from him and begging him quietly to stop touching her. She said again and again that she did not love him and she was scared of him. She never feels comfortable with him. From their very first interaction, as he makes her eat strawberries from his hand, she is uncomfortable and wants to go home immediately. There was no infatuation only a feeling in her gut that he was not someone to be trusted.

On top of that, Angel’s absurd double standard for his actions and her actions was infuriating. The worst part is that both men, the “good” one and the “bad” one share the same mentality about the situation. Both blame Tess but never themselves. The same attitude is around today, even though women have many more options, they are often shamed when they are sexually assaulted. 

The book is split into different phases and the second one begins after the infamous event. Tess is so broken; she's not even scared of Alec anymore because he's already done the worst to her that he could possibly do. She's resigned to her fate and full of sorrow. I kept thinking about how many other women over hundreds of years have gone through the same thing and are just completely broken afterwards and no one understands why. The man took something from her that she did not want to give and society treats it as if he didn't really do anything wrong. They justify it and say things like, maybe she gave off the wrong signals or put herself in a bad situation. It's just horrible. 

BOTTOM LINE: This is not a cheerful book. Every time Tess’ situation improves, heartache is just around the corner. But Hardy deals with it in such a raw and personal way that it is relevant even a century later. His writing transcends the subject matter and I’ve learned that I’ll read whatever he’s written.

** My Penguin Clothbound Classic edition discusses the different versions of the novel that were released. The original release presented a much harsher version of Hardy. Apparently he toned it down and made him more appealing in later versions, which is interesting.

“‘I shouldn’t mind learning why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike,’ she answered with a slight quaver in her voice. ‘But that’s what books will not tell me.’” 

“The beauty or ugliness of a character lay not only in its achievements, but in its aims and impulses; its true history lay, not among things done, but among things willed.”