Mini Reviews August 2009

Mini Review #1  ajrbj Alphabet Juice by  Roy Blount Jr, Sarah Crichton Books 2008, 364 pages

If you love words; how they sound, how they feel in your mouth, where they come from and what they mean, the fun play of  arrangement  – you will love this book!    It’s just fun.   Fun with an exclamation point!  AND educational.    I actually have put this book down and now realize it has been weeks since I skimmed any pages.   But it’s more that I don’t want to finish this book – I want to have it to savor,  I want to keep reading and reading and not use it up.    I’m hoarding the pages?     I have a crush on Mr. Blount, I have to admit.     The book is organized by the alphabet (doh) and words are referenced elsewhere – so it’s NOT a book you read start to finish.   You jump back and forth and back and forth again.    It’s just fun.     Here’s just a wee taste:

“The country singer Don Walser, now deceased, was being interviewed by Terry Gross [for NPR].  She asked him about his yodeling.
He said he did two different yodels,  a cowboy yodel and a swish yodel.
A what?  Walser was a big hearty Texan who didn’t seem like the sort of performer who would get off on mocking sissy airs.  Anyway, yodeling very nearly transcends gender.  Even if you wanted to how would you make a yodel sound nelly?
Then I realized:  “Swiss yodel.”  When the soft
s and the y-as-in-yummy glide together they make the sound that for some reason we spell sh-:

Oh how I wish you
Would wish I would kiss you.

I would be the last person to argue that the sounds of our letters are thoroughly explicable.  (Did you know that Hell’s Angels refer to themselves as “AJ” because it sounds so much like “HA”?)*  They are a wonder on the tongue.  And a tongue – althoughRobert Benchley called it “that awful-looking thing right back of your teeth” – is what a language is.”

I’m very very glad I purchased this book so I can keep it forever.    Five Pie Slices   5*pieratingsml


Not Quite A Mini Review #2  apfombji A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, (I cant’ find my book!?!???!??!)

I first must thank my fellow bloggers who have joined me and chimed in thoughts and provocative questions to make this a fabulously awesome reading adventure!    We’ve been twittering and hosting progressive ‘What about this?’ posts and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.   I believe this has enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the novel.     For now,  I’ll skip the who what where when why whackiness of this book and just say that I loved it.   I give it a 5 Pie Slice rating.    We’re still slogging through the discussion;   find us and add your thoughts here, or here, or here, or twitter search #owenmeany.


Mini Review #3  tbsbeb Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg, Island Books 1994, 284 pages

On one account, this was a perfect transition book from Owen Meany, because it was a totally different style and genre.   On the other hand, I am not sure what book could follow the experience of reading Owen Meany – especially with the discussion going on.    But I only thought Talk Before Sleep was ‘OK’.    Being the over-the-top nice reviewer that I always must try to be, I can’t really criticize much and it’s very tough to be negative when the book subject is so, well,  heartbreaking.

This is about the last days of a woman dying of breast cancer and is told from her best friend’s perspective – how do you say goodbye?    Heartbreaking and yet, dare I say – life affirming?  Yes, life affirming in that death is a part of life.   This book was wonderful for contemplating and considering all those thoughts good and bad about knowing your days are numbered.   But.

Books like this which I call women’s fiction in the classic sense, must be relatable to be soul-touching.   And I didn’t connect.   I appreciated, I laughed at the gentle wise friendsome humor, I even cried.   But I didn’t like the women very much.    Not that I didn’t like them – I just don’t know any women like them.  (it’s quite possible I don’t have enough women friends, whatever that might mean)   so.   I couldn’t relate.     I didn’t share.   I was only a bystander for this book and well, that’s just the way it is.   I am grateful that I’ve not had this horrible disease touch me this close, knowing that odds are I will.     I gave it two stars in goodreads; but do remember, two pie slices or stars does NOT mean I hated the book or don’t think it is a worthy read.   It just wasn’t a terrific book FOR ME.    (and it could also be attributed to the letdown of coming off Owen Meany.)   I would still be open to reading other books by Ms. Berg.  🙂


Preview Thoughts #4  twombcnmd The Wisdom of Menopause by Christine Northrup, M.D., Bantam Books 2001, 631 pages

I know very little about this phase I’m of the age to soon experience but I was a bit dismayed to read about how many women have personality changes and thus can expect to attribute such factors to changes in relationships, in which I mean marriage. Um, yea, OK.    huh.     But should I really be ready for warnings that I might consider divorce?!?!   what?    Struck me odd, I guess.    I thought it would be more medical-heavy not whole-life heavy, if that makes any sense.  AND I’m rather disappointed in the few mentions of endometrial ablation (only 2 pages) and NO listing under ‘A’.     No one I know in casual conversation, calls it an “endometrial‘ ablation;  we all discuss ‘ablation’.     (and trust me, in my circle of women friends, discussions of ablations come up quite frequently.)    I wish I could say my initial reactions to this book so far are silly.    I’m sure I’m just over-reacting.   (the word hysteria is discussed on page 259)


Mini Review #5  tewtffdd Trigonometry by Douglas Downing, PHD, Barron’s 2001, 326 pages

Um, I didn’t finish this but I was so excited in my last post to share that this is written not as a textbook but as a fantasy novel that I was just TOO excited, thinking it would be FUN!    It wasn’t fun.   I didn’t even get through the first chapter.   I’ll give you the intro and let you do your own research (yea, right)   But!   if you know a kid who might enjoy a math textbook in somewhat fantasy story format, go for it.    Not for me, nor the kid I’m tutoring.

“INTRO, first paragraph:     This book tells of adventures that occurred in a faraway fantasy kingdom called Carmorra.  During the course of these adventures, the people developed a brand-new subject, trigonomety.  By reading this book you can learn trigonometry.  The book covers material that is studied in a high school or first year college trig course.

“First Chapter:   It rained for days.  Everybody in the entire kingdom of Carmorra was forced to stay inside to avoid the drenching downpour.  I took refuge in the king’s palace along with the other members of the Royal Court.    Marcus Recordis, the Royal Keeper of the Records, stared dolefully out the Main Conference Room window.  “Rain rain, go away; come again some other day,” he sighed.  He watched the rainwater slide off the sloped roof of the palace.  “I think we should change the tilt of the roof,”  he remarked.  “If we made the roof steeper, then the water would run off the roof more easily.”

Gerard Macinius Builder, the Royal Construction Engineer, looked up from the drawings he was using to plan his latest building project.   “If you want to change the steepness of the roof, you will have to be very specific and tell me precisely how much tilt you want.”

“I don’t known [what’s the thing I put in here to say this is exactly how it appears in the book?, sic?] how to measure the amount of tilt of a roof,” Recordis complained.   But Builder has other problems.  He was staring at his drawings in puzzlement.


* No, I did not know that Hell’s Angels refer to themselves as “AJ” because it sounds so much like “HA”.   I love the letter ‘h’, by the way and I spent many hours as a kid wondering how to spell ‘h’ as it is pronounced:  aitch?  aytch?

20 thoughts on “Mini Reviews August 2009

  1. I love the sound of the Blount book! I really like the way different sound combinations can sound like other things – this book sounds right up my alley!

  2. I so want to do mini reviews of all the romance books I keep reading in between but I’m just so lazy.

    The trig book passage sounds funny, but I’m not going to read it. Sorry, if I could run away as far as I can from the nearest math book, I would.

    I read Open House by Elizabeth Berg last year and love it. I understand how liking the book could be difficult when you don’t connect or relate with the character.

  3. About that trig book – I have kept a book rather similar to that, called Calculus – The Easy Way, along the same lines of the fantasy world adventure.

  4. I just realized I missed my post date. Aggh! I am so sorry. I am working on a post right now, but what should I cover? Should I still do the chapter I was given, even though it is past time? -Ms Mazzola

    1. Sure! It’s informal and fun; I know a few readers just finished the book, so maybe we can pick up the discussion some more. Let me know! (and, I’ll be watching for it. 🙂

  5. Alphabet Juice is on my list of must reads! I come across so many books from reading reviews that I made a new column in my spreadsheet listing the book and where I first heard about them. My note for Alphabet Juice says Care-06-26-09 🙂

    About the menopause book – Christine Northrup is an author that I get a lot of calls about at work. Her books are in high demand. But I also hear a lot of complaints about the books once people read them.

  6. Pingback: More Thoughts on 2009’s Reading « Care's Online Book Club

  7. Pingback: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming « Care's Online Book Club

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