Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alice Adams Movie Review

With Katherine Hepburn

(from the DVD case) Clutching her corsage of violets and in a dress she hopes no one will notice she wore to last year’s dance, Alice Adams is ready for South Renford’s biggest evening of the year – and to pose as something she longs to be: one of the town’s social elite.  In this adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel, Katherine Hepburn hit a career peak with her moving performance as social climber Alice, trying to push her clodhopper family to the background and assuming airs to win the love of amiable, wealthy young man.

It’s a common enough story, a young woman tries to fit into a society where she doesn’t really belong and pretends to be something she is not.  You do feel for Alice as she tries really hard and still does not fit in.  But unfortunately her act is too much for me and she starts to get annoying instead of endearing.  And I had a hard time seeing what Fred MacMurray saw in her as the person she was pretending to be so I had trouble liking him too.  It was okay, cute in a way and I like the way the family sort of comes together in the end and the truth is what makes everything right but this is not one of my favorites.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Moby Dick Review

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick is the legendary whale that many whalers have seen and heard about but none have been able to kill.  When a run-in with the whale causes the loss of Captain Ahab’s leg he becomes obsessed with meeting the whale again to get his revenge.

A lot of people are familiar with this story but fewer people have ever read it.  Until now I was one of those people.  And I could see why people would be put off by this book.  It’s a good story, even a great story.  But it is long.  And Ismael, our narrator, is verbose to say the least.  You have to be patient with him.  You are a hundred pages into the book before you even get on the ship.  It is a long time after that before you see any whales and a lot longer after that that you get to see Moby Dick himself.  It’s not that nothing happens in the meantime.  You get to know the crew and Ahab and you get to see the effect that the captain’s obsession with the famous whale has on him and his crew.  Which is all good stuff.  But Ismael goes on and on about everything.  He gives you a catalog of all the whales he has seen represented in art and tells you how close they are to the real thing; he gives you a catalog of all the known whales; he discourses on the greatness of man.  And there is a lot of sailing going on.  I’ve never read anything else by Melville so I don’t know if it is author or the narrator that tends to be so wordy and tangential but for me there were long passages where I was at a loss as to what they added to the story and, quite frankly, I could have done without.  Even with all of those things I really liked it but I’m glad I was reading another book at the same time or it might have become monotonous.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Friday 56 (October 12th)


*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence (or a few) that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it to Freda's Voice.
*Add your (url) post to Linky on Freda’s post

The book this week is Criminal by Karin Slaughter. I’m actually not reading this book. Don’t even plan to. But it was sitting near me at the library while I was doing this and I liked the sentences. So now you know as much about the book as I do.

Most of the time when Amanda got into work, she’d run into a couple of suspects sporting black eyes or bloody bandages on their heads. They were generally handcuffed to the benches by the front door and no one could say exactly how they’d gotten there or with what they’d been charged.

Daughter of the Sword Giveaway

All Things Urban Fantasy is giving away a copy of Daughter of the Sword by Steven Bein.

If you would like a copy of this book think of an answer to this question:

What magical weapon would you want by your side in a fight?

Come up with an answer to that and you can be entered to win.

There are also ways to get other entries like following All Things Urban Fantasy by email, or on Twitter and sharing about the giveaway on Facebook, your blog or Twitter.  If you tweet you can go back and tweet again the next day for more entries.

It ends October 17th so hurry on over.
Open to the US only.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Euclid's Window Vocabulary

Euclid’s Window by Leonard Mlodinow

Recidivism: 1. repeated or habitual relapse, as into crime.
2. (Psychiatry) the chronic tendency toward repetition of criminal or antisocial behavior patterns

Dioptric: pertaining to dioptrics: dioptric images.
(Dioptics: the branch of geometrical optics dealing with the formation of images by lenses.)

Heterological: not corresponding in structure or evolutionary origin

Pedagogical: of or pertaining to a pedagogue or pedagogy
(Pedagogue: 1. a teacher; schoolteacher
2. a person who is pedantic, dogmatic, and formal.)

Imprimatur: an official license to print or publish a book, pamphlet, etc.,especially a license issued by a censor of the Roman Catholic Church
2. sanction or approval; support:

Jane by Robin Maxwell Giveaway

Passages to the Past is giving away a copy of Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell in honor of Robin's virtual book tour.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment (on her site, not mine) and include your email address.  No address, no entry.

But, if you want to increase your chances you might want to get some extra entries by:

-Following the Passages to the Past Blog
-Joining the Passages to the Past Facebook Page
-Following Passages to the Past on Twitter (@abruno77)
-Or sharing the contest by blogging, putting it in your sidebar, tweeting, or posting on Facebook of Google+

The Giveaway ends October 21st.
It is open to the US and Canada.

Run over there and enter.  Or don't.  I want the book myself so I won't be too sad if you don't try to take it from me.  But you'd be crazy to pass it up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WWW Wednesdays (October 10th)

To play along just answer the following three (3) questions…

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you recently finish reading?
*What do you think you’ll read next?

Leave a link to you post (or the answers themselves if you do not have a blog) in the comments of Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading?

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I’m still reading this. I’m surprised. Usually when I’m this into a story I would have been done long ago. I’m reading everything slowly at the moment though. I’m sure it will pick back up soon.

The Lost Chalice by Vernon Silver

This could be interesting but I don’t think I’ve gotten far enough in to truly be involved with the story yet. We shall see.


What did you recently finish reading?

Black Count by Tom Reiss

This is very interesting. I didn’t know about this guy at all. For those who are interested in French history or are fans of Dumas.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Looking for Przybylski by K. C. Frederick

It’s a book I got for review so I’d like to get going on that soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Euclid's Window Review

Euclid’s Window by Leonard Mlodinow

(from the book jacket)
Through Euclid’s Window Leonard Mlodinow brilliantly and delightfully leads us on a journey through five revolutions in geometry, from the Greek concept of parallel lines to the latest notions of hyperspace.  Here is an altogether new, refreshing, alternative history of math revealing how simple questions anyone might ask about space – in the living room or in some other galaxy – have been the hidden engine of the highest achievements in science and technology.

Mlodinow reveals how geometry’s first revolution began with a “little” scheme hatched by Pythagoras: the invention of a system of abstract rules that could model the universe.  That modest idea was the basis of scientific civilization.  Nut further advance was halted when the Western mind nodded off into the Dark Ages.  Finally in the fourteenth century an obscure bishop in France invented the graph and heralded the next revolution: the marriage of geometry and number.  Then, while intrepid mariners were sailing back and forth across the Atlantic to the New World, a fifteen-year-old genius realized that, like the earth’s surface, space could be curved.  Could parallel lines really meet?  Could the angles of a triangle really add up to more – or less – than 180 degrees?  The curved-space revolution reinvented both mathematics and physics; it also set the stage for a patent office clerk named Einstein to add time to the dimensions of space.  His great geometric revolution ushered in the modern era of physics.

Today we are in the midst of a new revolution.  At Caltech, Princeton, and universities around the world, scientists are recognizing that all the varied and wondrous forces of nature can be understood through geometry – a weird new geometry.  It is a thrilling math of extra, twisted dimensions, in which space and time, matter and energy, are all intertwined and revealed as consequences of a deep underlying structure of the universe.

Mlodinow tackles what some people would think would be a dry topic and manages to infuse some wit into it.  You can tell that he really loves his topic and wants the reader to as well.  He explains the math and gives you examples to help you understand.  And they are very helpful (although I must say that his examples using his sons start to get a little annoying after a while.)  He explains the beginnings of geometry and how it progressed and reasons why it was, at times, held back due to politics and religion and other things (which puts a lot of history in the book that you normally wouldn’t think of as having anything to do with math.)  It starts out with things I learned in school, like the Pythagorean Theorem and coordinates on a x/y graph and other things I recognized and then moved on to more complex things like string theory which I had no prior knowledge of.  I started out fine and could follow well enough but as the book went on and the theories got more complex I had a harder and harder time keeping up and often had to reread a passage to understand it (and sometimes never totally did.)  It is obviously a book for a particular audience and is not for everyone but if you are interested enough to pick up the book in the first place I don’t think you will be disappointed.  It is well written and Mlodinow knows his stuff and his love of the topic comes through and infects the reader.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Narwhal Review

(from the book jacket)
The narwhal is an ivory-tusked whale that lives in the High Arctic.  Unlike its popular cousin, the beluga, the narwhal is largely unknown, yet its story is one of the most fascinating in the natural world.
The fictional unicorn owes its existence to the elusive narwhal.  All the so-called unicorn horns in museums and palaces throughout the world are, in fact, narwhal tusks.  This whale’s remote habitat enabled the narwhal-unicorn connection to become one of the best-kept trade secrets of all time.  For centuries, it was in the best interests of narwhal hunters and traders to maintain the unicorn legend – the ten-foot-long “unicorn horn” was worth ten times its weight in gold.
In stunning photographs and an intriguing text, Fred Bruemmer explores the unicorn myth and natural history of the narwhal.  Interesting information about migration patterns, physiology, hunting methods, predators, breeding and young reveal the narwhal’s world for the first time in book form.  The author’s own experiences with scientists studying the narwhal and with Inuit of Greenland and Canada who hunt it add a personal note to this story of one of the world’s most mysterious creatures.
The narwhal is rare in much of its range.  It is hoped that this beautiful book will help make people aware of this marvelous whale and efforts to protect it in its High Artic home.

There is a lot of information here, and it is interesting, unfortunately most of it isn’t about narwhals.  At least not live narwhals.  There is a lot told about the myth of unicorns and why so many people wanted unicorn horns and were willing to spend so much money to get them.  And there is a lot about how the narwhal tusks were sold as unicorn horns and how they ended up all over the place.  There is a lot about the Inuit and how they hunt narwhals.  But about live swimming narwhals?  Not so much.  There are some great pictures.  (Once again many of them not of narwhals.)  I learned a lot in this book just not about what I thought I would.  So if you are not interested in the use of unicorn horn in medicine, or the history of the narwhal hunt, or the trade route of the tusks then don’t bother with this one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Friday 56 (October 5th)


*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link it to Freda's Voice.
*Add your (url) post to Linky on Freda’s post

The book is Black Count by Tom Reiss. It is about the father of the author Alexandre Dumas and it turns out he was a very interesting guy and the inspiration for many things in Dumas’ books.

Life in the French capital was complicated for a young mulatto aristocrat, and, as Thomas-Alexandre would shortly discover, he was alone neither in his unlikely fortune nor in the risks that increasingly accompanied it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Theme Thursday (Kid)

Theme Thursdays is a fun weekly event that will be open from one Thursday to the next. Hosted by Reading Between Pages.

Anyone can participate in it.

The rules are simple:

•A theme will be posted each week (on Thursday’s)
•Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from the current book you are reading
•Mention the author and the title of the book along with your post
•It is important that the theme is conveyed in the sentence (you don’t necessarily need to have the word) Ex: If the theme is KISS; your sentence can have “They kissed so gently” or “Their lips touched each other” or “The smooch was so passionate”

This week’s theme is – KID (child, toddler, baby, boy etc.)

A terrible event had befallen their younger daughter, Louise, a toddler of thirteen months.

- Black Count by Tom Reiss

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WWW Wednesdays (October 3rd)

To play along just answer the following three (3) questions…

*What are you currently reading?

*What did you recently finish reading?

*What do you think you’ll read next?

Leave a link to you post (or the answers themselves if you do not have a blog) in the comments of Should Be Reading.

What are you currently reading?

Black Count by Tom Reiss

It is about the father of Alexandre Dumas who was his inspiration for many of his stories.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

I just started this one so I can’t say much but even in the first few pages it is showing promise.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Mourner by Richard Stark

Violence, crime and the double cross. What’s not to like?

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Lost Chalice by Vernon Silver

I’m still trying to finish up my non-fiction non-memoir reading challenge so if it isn’t this one it will be another non-fiction one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Law of Superheroes Review

The Law of Superheroes by James Daily, J.D. and Ryan Davidson, J.D.

James Daily and Ryan Davidson are attorneys and comic enthusiasts and they explain what the hypothetical legal ramifications of many comic book issues.  You’ll learn if life in prison for an immortal would be cruel and unusual punishment or if a superhero would be able to get his stuff back from the heirs if he happens to come back from the grave.

These are real attorneys citing real cases and talking about real law things.  So even though we are talking about Spider-Man and Superman and a bunch of other imaginary people you learn a lot about the law.  I’m not saying that you can pass the bar exam after reading this but you will definitely know stuff you didn’t know before you read it.  (Unless you are an attorney yourself.)  There are words like pursuant and other legal words but the book is not hard to understand.  Many times the law will be quoted which could be hard to understand but then you are given an example of what it would look like in the real world (well, kind of) to help it make sense.  There were only a couple of times when a term was used and then not explained so it takes you a minute but eventually you can work it out for yourself.  It’s fun for anyone who likes comics and you get a good overview of law from copyright to immigration from criminal procedure to rights of privacy and everything in between.  I found it all very interesting and would not have picked up a law book if it weren’t for the unique approach.