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review 2017-07-27 21:45
Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson

Read this for Pop Sugar Challenge prompt "set in wilderness".

 

I had never read a Bryson book before, so the beginning chapters took me longer to read as I was trying to get into the groove of his writing. I will admit that it took me more chapters to find that groove than my usual and I almost DNF'd it. But today I decided, with 16 chapters left, to work through as much as possible before the end of the month. The beginning chapters made Bill out to be very impulsive - the decision to hike all 2100 miles, the money spent on equipment, the books he read. It seemed gimmicky, like he knew he was going to write a memoir out of this experience without thinking through what this experience was going to be like.

 

Luckily, I hit my stride when Bill and Katz decided to leave the trail in Gatlinburg and drive up a little into Virginia and finish the first leg of their trip somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley. The best part of the book for me was Bill's solo journeys into Pennsylvania and New Jersey; the Delawere Water Gap is on the outskirts of where I grew up (Matamoras, Pike County - if you use Google maps to try and find that tiny speck of dirt, you will need to zoom in....a lot). The section on Centralia reminded me of an episode of Disaster Area podcast about that coal fire; reading a first hand account of someone who was there years after the evacuation and bulldozing added greatly to my knowledge of the disaster.

 

I also really enjoyed his day hikes in the New England region, except for the last march through Maine (mainly because of Katz). Katz got on my last nerve and the time spent in Maine I was just done with him when he admitted to drinking again. I did enjoy the natural and social history that is found throughout the book. I almost DNF'd after another Mary Ellen story and could not have been happier to see she left the trail early and I wouldn't have to read about her clearing her ears through her nose again.

 

This isn't really a book about hiking or very introspective; it is much more an outsider's perspective on what he finds along the trail that catches his attention. I am not one for camping, but I do enjoy the occasional day hike (when it is started and finished at a hotel with running water). I was amused by Bill's humor, but didn't really laugh.

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review 2017-07-25 16:45
Review: The Complete Persoplis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis I & II - Marjane Satrapi

I needed to fill in the "book about/by an immigrant or refugee" prompt on the Pop Sugar challenge, so I picked up the combined version of Persepolis I and II. I have been meaning to read this for a long time, but just never got around to it. I am so glad I made the time to read it this weekend - although it is a memoir of coming of age in Iran, it also reads as a history lesson about a part of the world that is often used by political foes inside and outside the country but is little understood.

 

Satrapi starts the first volume talking about the demonstrations and protests against the Shah. Her parents were educated upper/middle-class and politically active. Surprisingly, they and their friends would have interesting cultural and political discussions in front of, and involved, Marjane (who was maybe 8 or 9 at the time). Marjane asked a lot of questions in this early section so that the reader can understand this chaotic time. Her parents don't allow her to publicly protest with them, but she does find her way to a couple of protests, one that turned violent. Then the Shah was removed and the Islamic Revolution came about, with the in-between time a time of hope but also of uncertainty. Her parents were now protesting the Revolution, so home was for the most part a safe haven. That safe haven was put to the test often by the arrival of the Iran-Iraq war. After a few years and countless bombings, Marjane's parents send her to Austria to finish schooling and stay safe. Man, I hope history teachers use this first volume to teach what happened. There was even a mention of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

 

Life in Austria as a war refugee was tough for Marjane. This part of the book dragged a lot; suffice to say, without her parents intelligence or thought provoking discussions, Marjane drifted a lot. She basically did a shit ton of drugs (pot, LSD mostly) and lusted/loved after men who were assholes. She moved from flat to flat, met a lot of white people who were pretty shallow or hypocrites. Luckily, her drug addiction (her words, not mine) did not prevent her from finishing school with decent grades (she kept her drug taking to the weekends).  Finally after having a mental break down, she went home to Iran.

 

But Iran was not the same after additional years of war. She made it back in time for the cease-fire/truce, but Iran was not the same. The Revolution was still in power, but it was the war that gave them real power and it is why they wanted to keep the war going. The black market was pretty much the only infrastructure intact and running efficiently. Marjane became politically aware again thanks to her parents' influence, but she drifted again without any goals of her own. Her parents wanted her to go on to university, which she did after meeting her long term boyfriend. Her art and her politics evolved into a mature but still fiercely democratic work. However, she chafed under the Islamic rule pertaining to relationships and ended up married to her boyfriend. The marriage was a disaster from the first day, but a new development gave her much more to work with: the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the beginning of Desert Shield/Desert Storm. She goes into detail about why and how the Iranians did not care at all for the Kuwaiti refugees or the region's stability in general. This was a whole new side of the war to me and kept me very interested in those last pages. Her shitty marriage ended and she left Iran for good, moving to France to study and work on her art more.

 

There is a deep connection with Iranian culture and heritage as well as with family. In particular, there was a constant sharing of history and future hopes stemming from her grandmother and mother to Marjane. None of Marjane's family talked down to her or made her feel stupid for asking questions about politics or culture. She knew martyrdom and political executions intimately because they happened to her family and friends. She is proud of her family and to call herself an Iranian, but does not blindly give loyalty to a government that she feels is evil.

 

I want a copy for my personal library now.

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review 2017-07-25 15:54
Review: The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan and Robert Venditti
The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two, The Son of Neptune: The Graphic Novel - Rick Riordan,Antoine Dode,Orpheus Collar,Robert Venditti

This was a graphic novel adaption of Riordan's popular series. I didn't have much interest in reading the series, but I needed a book about/use of mythology for Pop Sugar. So I figured the quickest way of knocking out the prompt was to go with the graphic novel adaption. I'm so glad I did; in graphic novel form I was very invested in the story, as it was all action a bit of political intrigue that I would not have picked up in novel form.

 

The artwork was technically beautiful and well done, but not emotionally drawing me in. It was the story itself that kept me turning the pages. Although this is a story of how Percy Jackson regains his memory (sssslllloooowwwlllyyy) and unite the seven, I was way more interested in Frank Zhang. OMG, I was so #teamFrank throughout my reading. Frank and his mom's memory. Frank and Ares/Mars father-son conversations. Frank and his Grandma. Frank and Hazel's friendship. Frank and Percy's working relationship. Frank was the clear winner of this story for me.

 

My library does have graphic novel #1 and #3, so I may decided to read those in the fall, mainly for more Frank.

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text 2017-07-19 21:55
#24in48 and 2nd COYER Read-a-thons Reading List
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
Chaucer's Major Tales - Michael Hoy
Persepolis I & II - Marjane Satrapi
The Heroes of Olympus, Book Two, The Son of Neptune: The Graphic Novel - Rick Riordan,Antoine Dode,Orpheus Collar,Robert Venditti
A Sultry Love Song (The Gentlemen of Queen City) - Kianna Alexander
The Greek Tycoon's Green Card Groom (Dreamspun Desires Book 14) - Kate McMurray
Secret Agent Under Fire (Silver Valley P.D.) - Geri Krotow
Killer Countdown (Man on a Mission) - Amelia Autin
The Soldier's Secrets - Naomi Rawlings
Falling for the Enemy - Naomi Rawlings

From today through next Sunday, I will be knee deep in read-a-thons. Since the 2nd COYER Read-a-thon rules stipulate that only print books can be read, I decided to make 24 in 48 all physical books as well. Some of the books are new to my COYER reading list, as they can be read for Pop Sugar challenge prompt fillers. I am also hoping that some of these books can be used for the Ripped Bodice Bingo, because I would like at least one bingo on that card.

 

1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Pop Sugar: Set in Wilderness) (Library Love Challenge)

 

2. Chaucer's Major Tales by Michael Hoy and Michael Stevens (Pop Sugar: Book mentioned in another book - Chaucer's Canterbury Tales was mentioned extensively in one chapter of London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford) (Library Love Challenge)

 

3. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pop Sugar: Interesting Woman) (Library Love Challenge)

 

4. The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan/adapted to graphic novel format by Robert Venditti (Pop Sugar: Mythology) (Library Love Challenge)

 

5. A Sultry Love Song by Kianna Alexander

 

6. The Greek Tycoon's Green Card Groom by Kate McMurray

 

7. Secret Agent Under Fire by Geri Krotow

 

8. Killer Countdown by Amelia Autin

 

9. The Soldier's Secrets by Naomi Rawlings

 

10. Falling for the Enemy by Naomi Rawlings

 

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text 2017-07-05 18:07
Love by Degree By Debbie Macomber 99 cents
Learning to Love: Sugar and SpiceLove by Degree - Debbie Macomber

Ellen Cunningham is happy to play housemother for three younger college boys–it’s helping her keep the rent affordable while she’s back at school herself. But then the house’s owner shows up, and Reed Morgan is not impressed with the situation. Reed finds Ellen’s presence particularly problematic… Maybe because he likes her so much.

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