Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crossing Into America, The New Literature of Immigration

Edited by Louis Mendoza and S. Shankar

3.5 Stars

This book is a collection of works revolved around immigration in America. It is divided into three sections. The first two sections are collected works from various authors: short stories, poems, and small pieces from novels. There were many beautiful pieces in here that I found compelling, but there were some that also left me befuddled as to what they had to do with the theme of the book. One of such pieces was a contribution by one of the editors... hmm... The third and last section is a mixture of newspaper articles, editorials, a round table discussion and some essays. Overall, I appreciated the idea of the book and gained some insight that I otherwise wouldn't have had, but I have to admit that some parts were rather dry and I had to read it in bits and pieces over a long period of time before I finally got through it.

The Last Gift of Time

3 Stars

I read this book hoping to get a bit of wisdom out of it, since I always assume the elderly have lived long enough to know what is really important, and that I can somehow tap into it and live a fuller life. There was a lot of rambling that I didn't care for, about people that the author had known, or looked up to. She included details about their lives that didn't interest me much, and did not provide any insights. What I did get out of this book was her perspective on feminism. She considers herself a feminist, and shared several ideas that I had not yet thought or heard of. I also appreciated that she cherishes literature and solitude.  

Friday, December 19, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

4.5 Stars

Definitely fun movie, maybe too predictable (just like my obnoxious play on words), but it is a romantic comedy, afterall. It reminded me a little of my all-time favorite romantic comedy, Love Actually (5 stars from me on that one). It did jerk some tears and laughs from me, and I'd definitely, well, maybe, watch it again!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breath, Eyes, Memory

5 Stars

Reading this book was kind of like making a puzzle without ever seeing the picture. I felt like I was being given pieces to something, but I didn't quite know what to do with them. I even considered not finishing this book, since I worried that I might waste my time looking for answers or for a plot that wasn't there. Luckily I didn't give up. The answers did come, the story came together very beautifully, and it is now one of my favorites. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Letter To Three Wives

There's one scene in the house "on the other side of the tracks" that cracked me up for several minutes. In fact, I'm still giggling thinking about it. I won't give away the humor, but it's worth the 90 minutes to see it. The rest of the movie is worth seeing once. An early role of Kirk Douglas.

Fahrenheit 451


I realize this story is considered a classic for a reason, but I had never read it, and I want my say on it. I would recommend this story to those who love a good story, sure, but I would mostly recommend it to those who rarely, or even never pick up a book. The lesson, or main point I took away from it can be applied to many things in life, and to miss out on the meat of this story would be like eating cardboard for every meal for the rest of your life (minus the digestive consequences).

The Darjeeling Limited

5 Stars! 

This movie was awesome. It was a story of three brothers who lost their brotherly connection to each-other, and go on a journey to find it again. It could have easily been one of those predictable stories that comes with an extra large side of cheese, but instead it was very unpredictable, and funny in a quirky way, with only an appropriate mouse-sized chunk of provolone.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill

Enjoyable meditation on understanding the possibilities of freedom and our responses to it. How free is it, really? Does true freedom mean loneliness? Besides the meditation, you ain't seen nothing till you've seen Mingus dance (seen at the end of the clip below). Not a "must-see" movie, but you won't regret having spent time with it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


4.5 Stars

I'm not a gambler or Vegas buff at all, but I enjoyed this film from the "nerdy" aspect of using math to increase your odds of winning. Knowing this is based on a true group of MIT students makes it that much more interesting. The actors are well chosen and the writing is phenomenal. My favorite character was the nerdy goofball of a best friend who portrays high self esteem and yet has a realistic sense of self at the same time. He's not a huge player in the movie, but he helps make the movie have some character. Quick moving and quick-witted, this is a definite must-see!

The Importance of Being Earnest

5 Stars

This funny movie is adapted from Oscar Wilde's play of the same name. I hadn't seen or read the play beforehand, so I had no expectations of the film, but I haven't seen a Reese Witherspoon film yet that I didn't enjoy so I figured it was worth a shot. Both Jake and I thoroughly enjoyed the quirky humor and general silliness that ensued. The language is a little like reading Jane Eyre, though you shan't need to have your English dictionary nearby.

Autism: The Musical (2007)

This movie was powerful on several fronts. It showed the growth of parents of several years of dealing with a "special" child, it showed what children are capable of when people who believe in them are wiling to work with them, and it showed the realism of dealing with uneducated people day in and day out. Understanding that this is truly a civil rights issue, and not an issue of "weird kids" is brought to light in this documentary. The "coach" is not overly interested in civil rights, her issue is one of simply showing the humanity of children; but some of the parents in the movie used this knowledge to further explore the reality of the world around them, and how easy it is for society to neglect fellow members who do not have the money necessary to fight the system.

It's hard to know, since I work with "special" kids, and am the father of a down's syndrome child; but it's my bet this movie would be a good tool for all members of our world to look around and be more accepting of all mankind. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Stephen Stills, when talking about himself and his child, could admit that he now saw why he used the guitar as a buffer between himself and the world.

Good movie.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Movie Reviews, Too!

Hi folks,

My Dad (Eartaste) suggested that we also add movie reviews on here too so we get ideas on what to rent from each other (and what to stay away from). Sounds like a good idea to me, so please, add movies too! Oh, and the blog site address has changed, so make a note if it's saved to your favorites or bookmarks!

Erin :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Age of Shiva

by Manil Suri

5 stars

A lovely (and sad) novel told from the point of view of a mother telling her son her story, their story. Bold and honest, I found myself shocked when I got to the end and realized the author was a male. The voice of Meera is so clearly female; it's amazing how intimately the author grasped motherhood and the mind and body of a woman.

I Hate Other People's Kids

by Adrianne Frost

3 stars

As Parker was pulling me down a non-fiction aisle at the library, I furtively spun my head in all directions looking at titles as quickly as I could and this is one of those funny titles that caught my eye. I took a second to grab it before I was tugged in another direction. I didn't know what exactly to expect when I opened it up as it advertised it as "a complete handbook for navigating a world filled with tiny terrors," but it was mostly just a humorous outlook on kids in public (think Samantha Jones from Sex and the City) . Being a new parent myself, I found myself mentally defending the actions of the children and their parents at times in this book, but when I realized the whole thing was just a joke, I laughed out loud quite a few times. A quick fun read, but nothing I'd say you'd have to read before you kick the bucket.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Edited by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton

I cannot rate this book. The experiences of these women cannot be debased by stars. This was by far the most difficult read I've done in awhile. I could not read this in large chunks as sometimes I found myself holding my breath and I could feel the stress tense up my body. Other times the rage came on so fast that it engulfed me for the rest of the day. Some days I didn't dare pick up the book because I knew I was mentally weak those days and wouldn't be able to emotionally handle it. I grieved for these women. I grieved for my own past. I grieved at the thought of my own child going through something like this. And I grieved knowing that these things are still happening and probably always will happen to children everywhere.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

By Kim Edwards

5 Stars

It is hard to imagine that Kim Edwards did not personally experience each of the situations and emotions that her characters did in this book. Her insights drew me close to each of her character's feelings of guilt, love, and anger, and I could not help but think that I was somehow a part of the story. She managed to depict the cruelty that people are capable of, and yet any anger I felt over the actions of the characters, was then washed away by sympathy for their humanity. I recommend this book to anyone in search of a deep meaningful tale.    

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eat Pray Love

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

5 Stars!

In this book Elizabeth Gilbert somehow manages to give spiritual insights while maintaining a humorous, down to earth outlook on the daily events of her life. While reading this book, I was constantly intrigued by her journey through heartbreak, as she traveled around meeting random characters that all played an important role in her healing process. It was very entertaining, and I was saddened when I realized I was reaching the end.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bridget Jones Diary

Bridget Jones is a quirky, humorous character, who magnifies the stereotypes of women in today's society through her obsession over her weight, her diet, and her outfits, and is constantly plagued by bad hair days. Helen Fielding has told a witty and entertaining story through diary entries of her colorful character Bridget, who repeatedly gets caught up in sticky situations and never fails to make a fool of herself.  I would recommend this book, and its sequel, to anyone in search of a light and clever read.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mission Accomplished! Or How We Won the War in Iraq

by Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky, Illustrations by Robert Grossman

3.75 stars

This book is mostly comprised of out-of-context quotes from "experts" in reference to Iraq and the war. Dripping with sarcasm, it is very one-sided and does a very good job of making our government officials and other "experts" look like idiots (not saying they aren't, but it's obvious what the aim was with this book just by looking at the cover). I did learn some new things from the book, but mostly it just confirmed what I had already surmised from living and breathing in the USA right now.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Woman Who Wouldn't

By Gene Wilder

3 Stars

Yup, Gene Wilder. The same actor you know and love from Blazing Saddles and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Apparently he is also a writer. I read this book in one sitting. An hour and 15 minutes later, the story was complete. Yes, sometimes less is more, but this lacked substance. I laughed a few times, but mostly the story is just silly while trying to be serious and seriously unrealistic. Cute is another word I might use to describe it. It might make a nice romantic comedy, perfect for a sappy Universal (or even Disney) picture. Maybe it's already been done?

The Story of A Marriage

By Andrew Sean Greer

3.5 Stars

This is an intriguing novel full of surprises and strange twists every step of the way, but somehow overall it doesn't ring true. Even for the time period it is set in, it hardly seems feasible that a woman so in love with her husband never has a single heart to heart with him, even after finding out his secrets, no, especially after finding out his secrets, through a third party whom she has no reason to trust. I wouldn't tell someone not to read it, as it does have some lyrical beauty and it has a unique way of pulling you in one direction and then flipping you around to see a whole other point of view and it really opened my eyes to my own misconceptions.

Reporting Iraq: An Oral History of the War by the Journalists Who Covered It

by Mike Hoyt (Editor), John Palattella (Editor), Columbia Journalism Review (Editor)

4.5 Stars

A view of the war (and how it's been reported) straight from journalists in Iraq. Because it is an oral history, the book is not exactly easy to read (which is the only reason that it didn't get 5 stars from me). We often write differently than we talk, don't we? But, it still offers an insight that is both scary and disheartening. The pictures alone moved me beyond tears. Well worth the read.

Introduction to This Blog

I decided to start this blog because I have been checking out books at random at the library lately, and I've been thinking to myself, Self, wouldn't it be nice if the library had a rating system so that you could choose your books with a more educated guess? Well, of course it would! But since our little local library doesn't quite seem up to speed like that, I thought it might be fun to do my own review! This way anyone else who has read the book can post a comment along with their own rating of the book, or if they haven't read the book it might entice them to check it out (or not).

If you are interested in becoming an author and contributing to this blog, just send me an email or respond to this with your email address!

Happy Reading!
Erin :)