Archive for March 22, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Posted in Fiction on March 22, 2008 by Shawna

For someone who doesn’t like YA books, I’ve been reading a lot of them lately. This is another one. It was loaned to me by my neighbor and dear friend, Cobra. This book strikes close to home, since I live in SD, near an Indian Reservation. The main character of the book is Junior. He is a cartoonist so the book is filled with his cartoons. He lives on an Indian reservation but decides he needs a better education and transfers to a “white” school near-by.  This causes him all kinds of problems at home and at school. The subject matter is very depressing but it is written in a funny and “real” way. This is a good book that I think any teenage boy would enjoy and also relate to. I’m not sure if the book is listed as fiction or non-fiction but I’m going to go with non!

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Posted in Fiction on March 22, 2008 by Shawna

I’m not a big fan of YA books, for example Harry Potter, yawn. I can see why this book is popular among teens right now, especially the Emo kids.  The only other vampire book that I’ve read was an Anne Rice, and I can’t even remember the name of it. So I did not have much to compare it to.

I did like Ms. Meyer’s description of Edward’s family and her ideas about how they came to be vampires.  I thought it was interesting that some of them had special gifts and some familes were not as civilized as other clans.  I really thought it was a great that Edward’s family did not eat humans.

I did not think it was believable that Bella’s mother would want her daughter to move from Az to Wa during her high school years, just so the mother could run off with a guy. It almost seemed like author had to go back and add all of the accidents and Bella’s clumsiness so she could wrap up the book.  It wasn’t a very deep book and it wasn’t a bad book.

It was a quick read, so that’s a plus. I have no desire to read New Moon or Eclipse but did buy Eclipse as an Easter present for my 15 year old step-daughter.

The God Of Animals by Aryn Kyle

Posted in Fiction on March 22, 2008 by Shawna

As I am thinking back on this book, I cannot remember how the title ties into the novel.  I really like it when I figure out where the title came from in a book.  Generally speaking, it seems like all the way through the book, horses are the God of all the animals, until the end, then we see that, of course, humans are the Gods of the animals. 

 This was a coming of age story about a girl named, Alice.  It was set in the mid-west on a horse ranch.  Most of the book took place in the barn, cleaning the stalls, caring for the horses and learning to ride the horses for rodeos.  I don’t know very much about horses so this book was very educational for me.  Horses are such intelligent animals that also seem to have a range of emotion. 

Ms. Kyle did an excellent job of developing the characters.  Alice, the main character, was likable and complex.  Her mother had severe depression and spent most of the book in her bed.  The dad was a hard worker, but no matter what they still remained poor. There was an English Teacher who was inappropriate. There was an older sister who is magical on a horse but gets married to a rodeo star so she can leave the life on the ranch.  There are the rich ladies who take lessons, board their horses at the ranch and have affairs with fathers. And then there are the horses, each with a personality of their own.

The book had good examples of the different socioeconomical classes in America.  There is also the exploration of young love (sigh).

 This is a well written, haunting, first novel.  It is a very smart book that I could not find a single flaw with. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a book that is difficult to put down.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Posted in Lisa, Non-Fiction with tags , , , , on March 22, 2008 by Lisa

(crossposted from Books. Lists. Life.)

One day last weekend while I was confined to my chair by the weight of a lethargic almost-three-year-old I was faced with the problem of having no book within reach. My laptop was here, but I’d already read all of the internets. So I did the unthinkable, I asked my husband to choose a book for me. I should have known better. My husband reads as much as I do, but our tastes very rarely overlap. He has a strong preference for non-fiction, specifically relating to WWII, Mt. Everest, business, and baseball. He is often saying things like, “you should read this one, it’s really good!” and I say, “Sure dear, one day.” Well, that day finally came.

The book he handed me was Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Now, we have entire shelves devoted to baseball. We watch a lot of games. It is hard to live in this house and NOT pick up on some of the names and facts. So this book didn’t come as a complete and total shock. I’d heard bits and pieces of it before. Regardless, it’s sat on the shelf for a couple of years while I said “Sure dear, one day.”

The short version of what the books is about is: it’s about how the Oakland As continue to win despite having the second lowest payroll in MLB. The long version is: oh my god there are some SERIOUS baseball geeks out there (and I’m married to one of them.) See, Oakland realized that if they didn’t do something different that they didn’t stand a chance against teams like the Yankees who have huge bankrolls. There was no way they were going to be able to buy star power. They had to find a way to work with what they could afford and still have a winning team.

They start by not listening to the scouts. They needed an all new way. They hired Harvard grads and stock traders and analysts who knew how to read the numbers. They didn’t go with “wow, he looks great” but rather “THIS stat is the one that directly correlates to wins. Who can do THAT?” When they lost s great player they carefully determined how to go about replacing what he really meant to the team. There are entire chapters devoted to single players (ie Jason Giambi). It talks about why pitching isn’t the most important factor, as I believed. There is a chapter devoted to Bill James, who is near unto a god at my house.

I wasn’t surprised that I found this interesting. I mean, it’s hard to live with baseball as much as I do and not be a little interested. I was surprised to find it entertaining. It’s really easy to read (except when it’s NOT because it does go a little over my head in places.) My only complaint is that occasionally there was a sentence in need of an editor. I don’t claim to be the world’s best at grammar- I can’t use a comma correctly to save my life- but there were way too many instances where the sentence was missing something vital- like the verb- or where the clauses didn’t match up or something. (Please note this lovely sentence I have crafted to describe my complaint!) Overall, thumbs up. If you (or someone you love) is obsessed with baseball I’d recommend reading this one.