Friday, February 24, 2012

The Voyage by Philip Caputo

Could this picture be any bigger? Anyhow, thought I'd go big for my first post in a couple of years. Was going to try for funny, but Becky set the bar on that one for her first two, so I'll try my usual format and maybe stretch out with later posts.

"On a June morning in 1901, Cyrus Braithwaite orders his three sons to set sail from their Maine home aboard the family's forty-six-foot schooner and not return until September. Though confused and hurt by their father's cold-blooded actions, the three brothers soon rise to the occasion and embark on a breathtakingly perilous journey down the East Coast, headed for the Florida Keys. Almost one hundred years later, Cyrus's great-granddaughter Sybil sets out to uncover the events that transpired on the voyage. Her discoveries about the Braithwaite family and the America they lived in unfolds into a stunning tale of intrigue, murder, lies and deceit."

I copied that last paragraph from the Random House website. Couldn't have done better, so let's call this the sincerest form of flattery. About the book, I really liked it. The initial start with the great-granddaughter looking into a mystery was kind of clunky, but once the tale was fully enveloped with the three boys and the ship, it was as good as sea stories and coming of age stories get. The mystery is good, the clues make sense when presented, and all of the scenes of storms, animal or human attacks, and family dynamics really work. I had to put the book down a couple of times and mentally catch my breath after a few of those scenes. Caputo is a wonderfully clear and descriptive writer without being verbose. I know all the not-retired folks have time constraints, but this is writing at its best and worth the time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

“This book will take you two days to read. Did you even see the cover? It’s mostly pink. If you’re reading this book every night for months, something is not right.”

Ok, full disclosure: This book took me three days to read when it should’ve taken me an afternoon. Why? Not because I’m secretly dyslexic or really super slow, but simply because I did not not not want this book to end. I didn’t think it’d be possible to read a book that I thought was funnier than “Bossypants,” but this one took the cake (mmm, cake).

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me” is written by someone who, up until reading the book, I knew nothing about, cared nothing about, and really thought was sort of annoying. I’m not a fan of the US version of “The Office”, even though I think it has its moments. But I really wasn’t a fan of Mindy Kaling’s character on that show. So when I heard that she wrote a book, it barely registered.

But then it popped up on my Amazon list under “Suggested Reads” (not sure why, I mean, just because I read any book by any famous woman who wants to give me advice on life, love, and friendship doesn’t mean…hey, it does sound funny! Thanks,!). However, I was still resistant because I have standards and if I’m going to be in my apartment alone reading with my cat it has to be something worthwhile, like Betty White’s “If You Ask Me…and I’m Sure You Won’t” (classic!).

In a shocking turn of events, though, I got really desperate one night when I realized that I was going through withdrawal after finishing the Steve Jobs biography (stay tuned) and “The Gates” (thanks for blogging about that, dad! Loved it! Perhaps I’ll add to your blogging…). So, I wandered over to Barnes and Noble and this pretty pink book was staring me down, just daring me to buy it. Never one to say no to a challenge, I picked it up and said “Bring it, Mindy.”

And she did.

I think Amanda would really like this book (actually, I think you all would, but for some reason I can’t see mom or dad picking it up) and I promise you will laugh out loud at almost every page. And the moment I put it down I immediately texted Courtney, Mary, Beth, and Deidre to tell them to stop whatever it was that they were doing and buy it. And since Courtney and Mary are the only ones, for some reason, who listen to what I say (mind-boggling), they did it immediately, leading to one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received.

Court: I’m pretty sure you are the ghost writer behind this book. She sounds just like you. You need to write a book.

Me: I wish I was that funny.

Court: You are. Now shut up and go write a book.

So, you see, with a review like that how could you not want to read it?

“I'm the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.”

Bossypants by Tina Fey

“My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.” 

It is rare to laugh through a book as often as I laughed through “Bossypants.” And before any of you cast this book aside because you don’t think 30 Rock is funny (agreed) or SNL (agreed) or even Tina Fey herself (I was neutral), take a step back. This is at the top of my list as one of the two funniest books I’ve ever read – and the other I’m blogging about after this.

Being able to capture the funny in mundane is something I think Tina Fey does better than most. She also captures the universal feelings of insecurity, adolescence, career highs and lows, love, parenting, and everything else in between better than pretty much anyone I’ve come across. Except, of course, Tori Spelling. But c’mon, you saw that coming.

I actually think all three of you would find this book funny because it really does have something in it for everyone.  I know it’s not really the type of book any of you typically pick up, but maybe that’d be refreshing! Hey, I picked up “The Worst Book in Ameri –" wait, sorry, “Year of Wonders”, and I GUARNTEE you that this is better. Guaranteed. Wait, that’s faint praise. Ok, I guarantee that you will all like this better than “Stori Telling” by Tori Spelling. Wait……hmmm…ok, will you just pick it up already? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, you waste an afternoon laughing and resent me for being right?

I think we can all live with that.