Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Backpack

Backpack by Emily Barr

After 55 pages I had to throw this book off to the side. It wasn’t the writing style that I disliked but rather the main character that I couldn’t stand. She was not just a bit clueless but truly vile. The setting was an interesting one: young girl starts out on her own to backpack across Asia, yet she doesn’t seem to make this decision based on a desire to see the world. It’s more of a desire to escape her current life of alcoholism and drug addiction with a vague, idealistic notion of breeze blown gauzy curtained windows and delightful natives that entice her to those places. That, and of course, a man. She was too much of meanie for me to continue to read about and I suddenly realized after looking this book up online that I’d read another of Emily’s books that also had a sort of vile leading character. I assume that she changes her spots in the end but if anyone has read this one let me know. I guess I should have known better just by lookins at the cover of this book. Too much focus on the female bottom. - Flourish

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Use What You Have Decorating

Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward

This is the book for those of you who have trouble figuring out just exactly what is wrong with your room. The theory is that you’ve already picked out all the stuff that’s in your house so you must already love it but you just don’t know how to make it work for your lifestyle. I learned loads from this book! A lot of the time what you see in decorating magazines has to do with accessorizing a room. You know what I’m talking about, all those cute little tchotchkes that are scattered about the room in the photos looking like they’ve been casually left on the table, draped on the chair, etc. Well let me tell ya what folks, that room was staged by professionals to look that good! This book goes back a step or two by helping you set up the bones of the room before you start accessorizing. Lauri helped me to better understand groovy things like furniture placement, how to avoid the visual rollercoaster, and how to properly balance a room. This little book is a treasure! Run out to your local library today and pickup a copy. Just don’t expect a whole bunch of shiny, flashing pictures like the magazines. This book is chalk full of black and white photographs but the text is really the meat of the matter. You’ll love it. - Flourish

Friday, December 16, 2005

Running and Walking for Women Over 40

Running and Walking for Women Over 40 : The Road to Sanity and Vanity
by Kathrine Switzer

I picked up this book while browsing the bookstore and sat down to peruse it before heading for the checkout counter. I’m certainly glad that I did because after a few pages I had to throw it off to the side. The author makes “personal notes” throughout the book which I can only say are extremely irritating. She has an obvious slant favoring running and readers get the distinct impression that she only threw in walking as either an afterthought or because her editor told her to. She probably wanted to increase readership to produce more sales. She even has the nerve to make a derogatory comment about overweight women being unable to run properly because their thighs are too big. This is only a paraphrase since I’m unable to give you an exact quote because I left the book at the store. The information seems fairly basic, including timetables for beginning and maintaining a running program. I’ve read similar information in the pages of fitness magazines such as Shape. Overall, skip this one and look for the same information in the cheaper format of popular magazines. -Flourish

Thursday, December 15, 2005

To Have and To Hold

To Have and To Hold by Jane Green (audio)

Although I’ve never actually read a Harlequin romance novel, this book strikes me as what one would be like. Jane writes about the most unbelievable events in women’s lives. This story revolves around a nature loving, thirty something woman, who owns her own highly successful catering business. Her life is completely transformed into a high name brand wearing trophy wife after marrying a man who turns about to be a notorious cheater. Years go by and she is routinely miserable until circumstance lands her in her fantasy world of the country complete with cottage, garden, and doggie.

The first book of Jane’s that I read was Jemima J which had an even more unbelievable plot than this book. But I must admit that I enjoyed reading that book and this one was entertaining too. It was sort of fun to suspend reality for a bit and get caught up in the lives of other people who get derailed from their life goals yet someone manage to find their way back to them. For total escapism this is the book for you. The narration was wonderfully done, easy to listen to and flowed with lovely British accents. - Flourish

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Girl Sleuth

Girl Sleuth by Melanie Rehak

This book is a rollercoaster ride through women’s history in the twentieth century. Melanie does an excellent job of setting the stage for the time period in which our author’s wrote the Nancy Drew mystery series. It was particularly interesting to read the humble beginnings of the series and about its creator Edward Stratemeyer. He was responsible for creating a syndicate that produced, gosh, a bazillion or so fun reads for kids including the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins. This guy had some kind of energy!!

But the heart of this book surrounds the women authors who brought Nancy Drew to life and the world that they inhabited. For those of you too young to know, that world was one where men wore the pants, went to their day jobs, and earned the household income. Women were rarely in the workforce and almost never in positions of power. Yet times were changing and these women did too and with that change they brought to life one of the most memorable female book characters of my childhood.

For those of you who are academically inclined, there are chapter notes located at the end of the book and also a fairly comprehensive index. If you, like me, grew up with the Nancy Drew mysteries and crave more, more, more, then pick up a copy of this book to find out the rest of the story… -Flourish

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snowed In

Snowed In by Christina Bartolomeo

Wasn’t sure that I was going to like this book initially but it turned out not to be a cold wet blanket. In fact, it was quite a warm, toasty blanket. Our heroine, Sophie, is a native of D.C. but moves up to Maine for her husband’s job. Apparently Maine is cold. Very cold. With lots of snow. No friends or family around and a husband that works late, a lot, lead Sophie to join the Happy Trails walking group. (BTW, Power walking is a wonderful thing and I highly recommend it!) It turns out that her husband isn’t just at late night meetings but actually up to shenanigans with a work colleague. Don’t worry, our soft spoken heroine lands on her feet and all is well in the end. The easy flow of the writing will send you through this thoroughly enjoyable novel in a hurry, but feel free to take your time and enjoy. Highly recommended. - Flourish

Saturday, December 03, 2005

This Dame for Hire

This Dame for Hire by Sandra Scoppettone (audio)

Move over film noir and dime store novels! Here is a book that takes the classis 1940s detective story and adds a millennium spin. With the U.S. entry into the war women must take over the traditional work roles of men and we find our heroine, Faye Quick, running the A Detective Agency for her boss Woody. Lovely descriptions of fashions, furnishings, and the New York streets filled with cafes, cig shops, and the like. A murder mystery that is solved by our smart, funny, no nonsense licensed female detective.

BTW, if you’re trying to quit smoking you may want to skip this book since it seems every few pages someone is lighting up. But hey, that’s the way it was back in the day when smoking was an endearing quality. The audio book was extremely fun to listen. Highly recommended to female fans of cultural forties. –Flourish