Monday, November 12, 2007

Pig Tails 'n Breadfruit by Austin Clarke

Pig Tails 'n Breadfruit

Clarke portrays the culture of Barbados with descriptions of different dishes and the rituals surrounding them. Each meal originated with the tension of slavery and rebellions in the early years of Barbados. The meals are slave food, made from the leftovers of the plantation house. With each chapter, Clarke shows how a food created in the time of poverty and suppression has been changed to a traditional, native meal, full of ritual and meaning.

Many times Clarke writes of his perceptions of racism.

"...Only now do I realize why we called the rice from Demerara, and later from Trinidad, "white rice." White rice was nothing more than plain rice. Through a quirk in my understanding of race and colour, I had thought that white rice was of higher quality and must have been prepared expressly for the tables of the Plantation."

The food doesn't always sound delicious...

"When we finish, and the bones are tossed into the yard ... I wander through the neighbourhood, chewing the eyeballs of the chicken, pretending they are two gobs of Wrigley's chewing gum in my mouth."


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Face by Daniel McNeill

I picked up The Face mainly because I wanted to see just how someone could write a complete book on the face. I started with the pessimistic expectation that the majority of the book would be filled with scientific thees and thous and not much I could actually follow. What I found was actually a fascinating culture study, rom how you can tell a true smile, to jewelry, to how different people view beauty. It was history, science, culture, art, superstition, folklore, and psychology bound into a single satisfying book.

The Face had lots of different tidbits that, when correctly dropped into conversation, lead to friends describing you as cultured, knowledgeable, or well-rounded. For example, did-ya know the Powhatan Indians would stretch their earlobes, then hang dead rats by the tail or live snakes from them? Try bringing that up next time your mom complains about your lip ring!

I liked reading it. It was fun, interesting, and a quick read. Enjoy it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Metapost: Hiatus

Hello peoples! I have been very lax in updating because I have been extremely busy with school and work, and unfortunately, I haven't had time to read much! Expect me to come back soon!

In the meantime, I have some webcomics listed that I like. Check 'em out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey

The Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey

It started with watching a documentary during a bout with mononucleosis, and turned into a drive to learn and experience great white sharks. Just off the coast of California, near San Francisco, some of the largest white sharks in the world congregate, migrating there year after year. Susan Casey managed to get a day pass to visit the biologists living on the Farallone Islands, a remote research occupied by a few scientists each year. With the sighting of her first great white, she was hooked to the point of obsession, and had to return. She examines the history of the sharks and the island, learning as much as she could while there.

While reading this book, you get a sense of the obsession that Casey felt while studying the sharks. The power, intelligence, and character of the sharks inspired her, and in turn Casey inspires you. Although the general feeling I got from the book was of the necessity to study and protect our oceans, the book was not written as a guilt trip. The emotion is genuine, coming from Casey's absolute love for the animal.

Metapost: BookQuiz

You're Siddhartha!

by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try
anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent
some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in.
This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's
time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Rats by Robert Sullivan

Rats by Robert Sullivan

"As the lost sibling of the least obscure patch of land in America, the rat alley sometimes seems to me the most forgotten place in the city - a lost tide pool on the shore of a great ocean. On the other hand, sometimes I just think of it as an alley, filled with a lot of rats."

Robert Sullivan set out to spend a year in an alley, observing rats in their natural habitat. Sullivan does a magnificent job of blending history and natural science, speculation with fact. His learning process takes him from the Black Plague in the Middle Ages to the creation of sanitation workers rights, to WWII, back to Prohibition mob bosses to bioterrorism, and everything else in between. He treats rats with dignity and respect, but resists the urge to romanticize them, as you can see by the above quote.

The book itself reads well, as if you are reading a blog of his life. It is chatty and smooth and although it bounces back and forth between subjects and time periods, it is not at all difficult to follow. Read the book and flabbergast your friends with your knowledge!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thirteen Detectives by G. K. Chesterton

Thirteen Detectives is a collection of 12 short stories featuring (what originally confused me but I think I understand it now) 14 detectives. It begins with The White Pillars Murder, travels through Mr. Pond's paradoxes (The two men agreed on everything, naturally, one killed the other) and ends with a never-before published Father Brown mystery, The Donnington Affair. This is the pinnacle of Chesterton intrigue.

If you liked this book, make sure you check out the rest of the Father Brown stories.

Aunt Dimity: Snowbound

Christmas is over, and Lori Shepherd is tempted to throttle anyone who so much as mentions tinsel. Her friend suggests she take a hike to relax, and mistakenly curses her. "There's only one can't miss it."

What was originally an afternoon stroll turns into a camp out in a blizzard. Lori fortunately stumbles upon Ladythorn Abbey, and a chance to right an age-old wrong.

Atherton misses nothing, again, in this excellent book of mystery. Aunt Dimity is sweet, Reginald is cute, and Lori is weak-kneed at the sight of her current crush. The more you read this series, the more you fall in love.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Little by Little, a Writer's Education by Jean Little

Jean Little struggled with feeling different her entire life. She was a Canadian girl growing up in Taiwan. She was born legally blind. She loved to read and write stories, but she could barely see the letters even with her face pressed against the page.

She learned to write, and began to write stories whenever she could. She began to draw from her own experiences with disabilities, and wrote stories and poetry to give others with similar difficulties hope and encouragement.

Her writings are quite different from what I usually post, but I was so taken by her writing style and her liveliness that I just had to share.

Little by Little is more a collection of memories than a traditional autobiography. It's an inviting, heartfelt story of rising above difficulty.

Metapost: Madeleine L'Engle

I don't usually post about sci-fi or fantasy, but Madeleine L'Engle died September 6th at age 88. I loved her books (she wrote the Wrinkle in Time series) and will definitely be missed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Catch as Cat Can by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Everyone loves a good feline mystery, and Catch as Cat Can, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown, is perfect. It's tenth in the Mrs. Murphy series (whoops), but jumping in works perfectly.

Roger O'Bannon collapses at a party after drinking a cup of coffee. His brother Sean refuses an autopsy, causing many people to whisper. The whispers get louder when a man is found murdered, and Mary Minor Haristeen ("Harry") can't help but ask questions and look around. But even before she has an inkling of what happened, her cat, Mrs. Murphy, has figured out what happened, as well as who is next in line to be killed.

This book was a very fun read. Though it is easier to understand if you start from the beginning, the characters were as well developed in this book as in her others. Brown successfully navigates the small town dynamics, as well as exploring the psyche of Harry and her life.

Want to start from the beginning of the series? Read Wish You Were Here.

Evil Star by Anthony Horowitz

The first gate was closed, but there is danger of a second gate being opened. Matt and Richard must travel to Peru, where they will face ambushes, traitors, and many more dangers. The second of the five is found.

This is the second book in the Gatekeepers, and just as excellent as the first. The story progresses quickly and suspensefully. If you haven't read the first one, read it first; however, don't forget to read the entire series. You won't regret it!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Bethany's perfect life has crashed. Her parents, always loving on her to the point of completely spoiling her, have abandoned her with her Aunt. They disappear without an explanation, without even telling her when they will see her again. Everyone Bethany knows is suddenly holding secrets from her, and all she can discover is through what she hears when she eavesdrops.

Haddix is an extremely imaginative author. Her books are well-written, but even more than that, she never writes a boring novel. Her endings surprise! Double Identity in particular twists at the end. Great summertime (or, end of summertime, now) read.

Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz

Matt has gotten himself into serious trouble this time, and is given the choice of being sent to jail or to get one last chance at a fresh start. He chooses to stay with Mrs. Deverill in a town called Lesser Malling in an attempt to get back on his feet.

Once he arrives there, Matt realizes something sinister is starting. A man who attempts to mug Mrs. Deverill is found dead, and several other people die suddenly. Matt's only clue is the phrase Raven's Gate - and the knowledge that, somehow, he is in the center of something big.

Raven's Gate is the first in the Gatekeeper series, and I am excited to read the rest. This first book keeps a unique storyline - part fantasy, part science fiction, part real-life drama, part mystery. It keeps you on your toes until the very end!

The Ghost Squad Breaks Through by E. W. Hildick

Yay! Love the series. Danny, Karen, Carlos and Joe are four ghost who have finally managed to communicate with their still-breathing friends. Danny has just overheard a plot to break into a jewelery store - can he and his ghost friends figure out a way to stop the break-in?

E. W. Hildick created the McGurk mystery series, which I adored when I found them. Hildick loses none of his humor, and storytelling flair in this new series, the Ghost Squad. Whether you're 9 1/2 or 99 years old, you will love it. Happy reading!

Body in the Brillstone Garage

Body in the Brillstone Garage, by F. P. Heide and Roxanne Heide.

Loved the Boxcar Children series? Try this fun, fast-paced book by the Heides. A body is found in the garage at the Brillstone apartments - then disappears. Who took it? Who killed him? And why?

This book is perfect for younger readers who are outgrowing Jigsaw Jones and the Boxcar Children. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Aunt Dimity's Death

Aunt Dimity's Death, by Nancy Atherton, is the first in the remarkable Aunt Dimity series. The book is quite different from the other, suspense-filled books in her series, but never fear, it is still as engaging as ever.

Lori Shepherd is down on her luck. Newly divorced and trying to survive on a minimum wage job, she is devastated when her mother unexpectedly passes away. Following the death, she discovers that Aunt Dimity, a woman she only knew as a fictional character from the stories her mother told her as a child, was an actual person who, sadly, had recently died. To Lori's surprise, Aunt Dimity has left a sizable inheritance - and her ghost - behind.

A few portions of the book seem strained in my opinion. For example, the idea of Aunt Dimity being a ghost is accepted extraordinarily easily by Lori's friends. That aside, I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone. The mix of romance, mystery, and suspense blend perfectly together to create a terrific read.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Ah, Christie. Styles is her first novel, and, of course, not her last. Even though its her debut, that doesn't mean she hadn't learned the tricks of the trade yet. This book is fast-paced, with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. I loved it!

Hastings has gone to visit a friend at Styles, a mansion owned by an elderly woman. She has recently married, to the horror of her sons, a man who is much younger than she. The match has "gold digger" written all over it (or, at least, the early 1900 version of gold digger.) During Hastings' stay, she dies. Is it poison? If so, who poisoned her? Could it be her husband? One of her two stepsons, jealous and looking forward to inheriting the estate? Or someone else in the household? Hastings calls his friend, Hercule Poirot, in to solve the case.

The book was absolutely amazing. Enjoy!

-over n out-

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis by Ron Burns

You know how many history/mystery books sound absolutely fascinating, then turn out to be too dry with historical details, or so full of made-up characters that, other than the chance they sometimes say "thee", often it feels like a typical mystery?

Ron Burns doesn't. The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis is, actually, just that. Two men realize they just cannot believe their friend, Meriwether Lewis, had committed suicide. They begin to investigate, and realize the answer is much more complicated than they had realized.

I was truly impressed by this book. Mr. Burns, although much of the book is speculation, it all falls within the realm of "It really could be this way." I enjoyed it, I had difficulties putting it down. A definite must-read, and, I think, a great book for adding to your collection.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Give My Regrets to Broadway

Give My Regrets to Broadway by Bruce Hale

Scott Freeh has disappeared the day before the rehearsals for the play begin. Chet Gecko is forced to take his place as the lead character. Yuck! Chet decides he must find Scott before the curtain rises! Meanwhile, strange things begin to happen at the rehearsals. Could it be related to Scott? Or is it because the students are upset at the new version of the play? Can Chet solve the mystery before his big debut? A Chet Gecko Mystery

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mystery at Blackbeard's Cove

Mystery at Blackbeard's Cove by Audrey Penn

Um, ok. I can't decide if I liked this book or not. The story kept a fast pace and had a great premise - pirates and ghosts? What could be better? ended up being just...too much. Pirates, pirate ghosts, treasure hunts, the Underground Railroad, international mysteries, a hurricane, our heroes locked in a dangerous tunnel, one of whom has a dangerous spider bite, another who never talks because 'of something bad that happened to him that no one knew what it was because he didn't talk so they couldn't find out what had happened', a hero with a life-threatening cut to his head, a tunnel that is on fire and collapsing, cutting off our heroes' air supply, skeletons and mysterious cannon a whole lot more that you'll have to read the book to find out about.

The end result is that the book feels thrown together haphazardly, jumping around from precarious situation to frightening adventure without giving you any time to about it.

I did, however, enjoy reading it once I got past reading it for its content and instead relaxed and read it as a fun story. It truly is a good read, and would be great for "reluctant readers" If it were a movie, I wouldn't see it in the theater, but I would definitely look for it at the rental store.

Make of it what you will.

-over n out-

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Case of the Missing Bronte

I was talking with a friend of mine (while sitting, watching the sunset at the beach, no less) and our conversation leaned towards our respective schoolings. She had recently completed a course with one of her favorite teachers, an offensive, rude British man. 'Come on, you little shits,' was his favorite phrase. But at the same time, he was her favorite teacher. "After all," she said, "Everything is better when it is said in a British accent."

Yep. It is. So before you read The Case of the Missing Bronte, practice spelling your favourite words properly and sip a hot toddy with a chum. You won't regret it.

I'll write more once I've actually finished the book. For the moment, cheers!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Read it, finished it, loved it. It's actually the second in a series, but it's not too hard to jump in. Melanie Travis is new to the dog showing world, although her Aunt Peg is more than willing to introduce her and Melanie's new puppy, Faith, to it. Jenny Maguire, a prominent dog handler, teaches Melanie some of the basics - until Jenny is murdered.

A couple things bothered me about this book, but they didn't detract from the read and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone. First off, it was hard for me to get into it. Of course, I read it in its entirety while I was sick, and therefore nearly entirely oblivious to everything going on around me.

Secondly, I guessed whodunnit before it was announced. I consider this rather a success on my part. I mean, I guess all the time. This is just the first time I've been right. Yay me!

Final conclusion: Good book. My cat was jealous.

-over n out-

Berenson, Laurien. Underdog. New York: Kensington Books, 1996.

The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale

The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse (2000)

A hardboiled detective. A young boy - vanished. A mysterious ... chameleon? This book was terrific reading aloud to my niece and nephew (7 and 10 years, respectively). They absolutely loved it (I could tell because they wouldn't let me stop reading that afternoon until we finished it!) Even despite their enthusiasm, I think I liked it more than they did.

Hale takes a tongue-in-cheek look at crime fiction, setting a disappearance at Chet Gecko's elementary school. The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse introduces the major characters in his Chet Gecko series. Read 'em all!

Monday, July 9, 2007


'Twas a dark and stormy night. A perfect night to wrap herself in a thick quilt, brew some tea, and curl up with a frightening book.

Or not. It's a beautiful July morning, the sun is shining, and I am lazing on the couch eating a granola bar and talking about myself on the World Wide Web.

At any rate, welcome to my first post, which is hopefully not my last. Danke! Merci! Gracias! Thank you for listening.

Over 'n' Out.