Sunday, January 31, 2016

War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
Narrated by Greg Wagland

Spoiler alert!

When a pod crashes just outside London, our intrepid observer (unnamed protagonist) is at first curious. He watches as a lid slowly unscrews itself, and an alien crawls out. He only makes a run for it when green lightening chases down the watching crowd, scorching them all to death. He runs home, takes his wife to an out-of-the-way town, and for some idiotic reason heads back home. The rest of the book is his adventures on the way back to his wife. It also contains a short couple of chapters about the adventures of his brother in London - just to add some greater perspective of the story. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

In which Rachel wraps up January 2016

Well, it's been an eventful month for me. I started my EMT class and training for a new volunteer opportunity. And I put in my 2-weeks' notice at work (next week will be my last). I didn't set out to make the New Year a mini-rebirth, but I feel like a lot of good changes are coming for me soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Devil in the Grove, by Gilbert King

Devil in the Grove:
Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
by Gilbert King, narrated by Peter Francis James
In this 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, Devil in the Grove is about Thurgood Marshall's ("Mr Civil Rights" and arguably one of the best lawyers of the 20th century) work to save three black men accused of gang raping a 17 year old girl.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This is the first story of Larua as a 4-year old in a log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin. I've never read any of these books before, and honestly I can't even say whether I ever watched the TV show. So I didn't know quite what to expect. Whatever I expected, this wasn't it. This book is written with a slice-of-life narrative with no plot and very little dialog - it was kind of a passive story...or perhaps a string of memories/anecdotes that are connected in approximate chronological order. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In which Rachel gets the stomach flu

5 year throwback.
I miss you Grandma!

This week wasn't as eventful as last week. I started working with my boss to have a smooth transition out - though I'm leaving him in a tight spot, so the transition won't be much easier than if I strolled out in the middle of the day and never came back. I caught the stomach flu from my sister and was sick a couple of days. Spent a nice Olive Garden dinner with a friend, and that's about it!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Reluctant Romantic Challenge

Katie at Doing Dewey is hosting the Reluctant Romantic Challenge in February. 

Is there a genre you’d like to read more of in 2016? Or a genre that you’ve never given a chance? The Reluctant Romantic event this February is the time to do something about it! Lasting all of February,  there will be optional discussion topics and check-ins every Saturday and a twitter chat at the end of the month. To join in, just post a sign-up wherever your online home is and share what genre you’ll be getting to know this month.

The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
Narrated by Greg Wagland

This review contains spoilers

Using a time machine of his own making, a man travels to the year 802,701 to discover a world where humans have diverged into two separate species. The first species he meets are the Eloi. They are an indulgent people living in what the time traveler calls a communist society. It appears to be a utopian society in which everyone shares living spaces and food. But our time traveler soon discovers that this society isn't as perfect as it seems. The Eloi are an uncaring race. When one of their own is drowning, they glance uncaringly in her direction and then move on with their own entertainments as if such an event were normal and uninteresting. There is a complete decline of intellect. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Rolling Stones, by Robert A Heinlein

The Rolling Stones, by Robert A Heinlein
Narrated by Tom Weiner
Teenaged twins Castor and Pollux Stone cajole their father into buying a space ship, and the entire family goes on a trip around the galaxy. But Castor and Pollux repeatedly end up in trouble with their schemes to make a fortune on distant planets.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wild Swans, by Jung Chang

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
by Jung Chang
narrated by Joy Osmanski

This contains spoilers. 

Wild Swans is the memior of Jung Chang's childhood in China during the Cultural Revolution, but it's not only about her. She begins with the story of her grandmother. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

In which Rachel Quits her Job

Favorite picture of the week

So this week I lost one of my employees. This particular employee is a very difficult person to work with, so in that way it was a relief. But it also meant that I would have to work every single weekend covering shifts from 2 missing employees instead of every other weekend covering the shifts of only one. Having just finished an incredibly busy week of EMT class and MnCOSA training while working full time, I realized that there's no way I'd pass my EMT class if I start working every weekend. It's just too much. So I quit. I actually quit my job. Well, in truth, I moved down to part time - so I'm helping out every other weekend and on Wednesdays until my boss can find someone to replace me and/or the missing employees. It was a hard choice to make, and a hard phone call to make as I hated dumping so much stress on my poor boss. But it was what I needed to do. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Buried Book, by David Damrosch

The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh
by David Damrosch, narrated by William Hughes
This is an interesting study of the discovery of the tablets that comprise the most complete sections of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It starts with a discussion about the archaeologists involved in discovering the tablets - what trials they underwent while digging, politics behind their dig, and even quarrels between archaeologists. (Sounds like Wallis E Budge was a jerk despite his fame.) The most interesting story was that of George Smith. He came from a working class background, but he had a brilliant ability to learn languages so he moved up to a classier job as apprentice in a printing shop. He spent all of his free time in the British Library learning languages and looking at ancient documents. Eventually he was hired on, first as a volunteer, and then as a full-fledged member of the team to research ancient Babylonian tablets. He was the one to discover the flood story within The Epic of Gilgamesh and he got so excited that he ran around the library in a "state of undress." (How much undressed he was remains a mystery. But I don't imagine he ran naked through the library yelling Eureka! or anything. He probably took off his jacket and loosened his tie.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Half the Sky, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
narrated by Cassandra Campbell
In Half the Sky Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn share a heartbreaking study of oppression of women around the world. It begins with a long section on the sex trafficking of women, sharing personal stories of many victims. Girls may be told that they are about to go to earn money selling fruit in a city, and then they are kidnapped, beaten and raped until they submit to prostitution. Some are born into brothels. Many who escape or are rescued from their situation return "willingly" because they know no other way to make a living and they are stigmatized in their community for their past occupation. And many return because they crave the drugs that their pimps have forced upon them to keep them complacent and needy. The book also explores lack of freedom to get educated, honor killings, genital mutilation, and maternal mortality.  

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Well of Lost Plots & Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde

The Well of Lost Plots, by Jasper Fforde
narrated by Emily Gray
After Thursday Next's husband is erased from existence (eradicated), she decides to take a break from the real world by vacationing in the Well of Lost Plots. She finds a nice unpublished book to hide in - and in her spare time she begins an apprenticeship with Jurisfiction - the group responsible for policing fictional characters. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Narrated by Juliet Stevenson

Warning: here be spoilers

When Jane fights back against her abusive aunt and cousins, she is sent away to a boarding school for charity cases. There, she is starved, punished severely, and witnesses deaths of students due to school negligence. After living this life for 18 years, she is thrilled to find a place as a governess for the ward of the mysterious and wealthy Mr. Rochester. They find love, but only at a great cost. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Where has the first week gone?

Hello everyone! This has apparently been a busy week, since I'm behind on everything - including answering comments and visiting everyone's blog. It'll probably be that way for about a month, but I'll do my best to swing by and leave comments whenever I have time. This was my last week of vacation, but I've been busy covering for my employee who went on vacation during my vacation. :) I also celebrated Christmas with my boyfriend's family on Sunday - got three Lockwood & Co. books - gave platelets and then fainted on Tuesday, celebrated my sister's birthday with my whole family one Wednesday, went to The Force Awakens for a second time on Thursday. Today I'm thrilled to not have any plans at all. :) 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Curio, by Evangeline Denmark

Curio, by Evangeline Denmkark
ARC provided by publisher through NetGalley
in exchange for a fair and honest review
Grey Haward lives in a world where people can't digest food unless they drink a potion provided by a tyrannical ruling group. When her friend Whit gets punished for saving her life, Grey discovers a hidden trait inside herself - she is a Defender who protects people from tyranny. Just as she's discovering her new powers, she is thrown into a strange new steampunk world in which she must find the Mad Tock in order to escape. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Psychopath Whisperer, by Kent A Kiehl

The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those without Conscience
by Kent A Kiehl, narrated by  Kevin Pariseau

In this fascinating scientific exploration into the biological differences between psychopaths and non-psychopathic people, Kiehl discusses his own dealings with psycopaths in prisons. Kiehl is known as the first person to use an MRI in a prison to study the differences between psychopaths and non-psychopathic prisoners.