The Lightning Thief

I had orginally checked out, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) by Rick Riordan at my son’s request.  As often happens at my house, I end up reading these books as I read most things that cross our doorstep. This one I did enjoy.

In this fantastic world, mythical gods still exist and still sire children.  To keep these children safe, they are sent to a weird sort of camp. Percy, the main character, discovers he is the son of a god when his mother drops him at the camp right before her death. Then, a series of threats to the world force him to embark on an epic adventure.

Certain parts of this books were glib the way children’s books sometimes are, for example, the death of his mother causes no tears, only a sort of befuddlement.  The book plays into our cultures current fasination with fatherhood, much as that is a evolving role.  In this case, the father is awesome and great, but distant and perhaps indifferent.  Many young people can relate with this as well as his parents’ separation.

The book moves rapidly and stays true to its imaginative space. There is a variety of creatures yet the author is able to incorporate them into the modern world either with disguises or explained away by tabloids.

It’s interesting how well this is played out here, especially after just seeing Wrath of the Titans. The story line was exactly the same: a son of a god on quest to save the world.  Mars was even the enemy in both.  Yet while the special effects of Wrath of the Titans were spectacular- the story was hard to follow.  I was indifferent to the characters.  Percy Jackson and his friends are solidly human, full of the awkward bravado and insecurities of a young teen.  They make mistakes, and they build relationships between each other, and those friendships are very real.

Fantasy Life

I read Fantasy Life a long time ago when I first discovered Kristin Kathryn Rusch.  It is a wonderful book, full of magical creatures and extraordinary people with unusual powers.  She begins by introducing us to four generations of women with special powers who are protecting a very unusual sanctuary.  While there are magical elements to the book, there is a central mystery that is only revealed at the very end.

The author has a surprising way of weaving the magical creatures into the modern world that is believable and relevent.  The central theme of the book: the oil spills that cause havok on the environment, is woven into this fantasy. The book moves between the fantastical and “real” world without seams- and when the two conflict – it is interesting.

Blood, Bones & Butter

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Gabriel Hamilton

This is an interesting memoir about cooking and life by Gabriel Hamilton.  She begins with her unorthodox childhood.  First, her strong memories of her mother and her cooking, then later, after her parents divorced: her own childhood explorations in cooking.  Then she takes on an autobiographical trip through all of the cooking she did and finally to Italy, her husband’s home and how her only way of communicating with her mother-in-law is through cooking.  Then finally, when she takes over her mother-in-law’s kitchen, she sees the full circle between her mother and her motherhood.

The Millionaire Next Door: The surprising Secrets of America’s wealthy

Like most people in America, I am curious about the well off.  In this book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, the authors have done market study on millionaires.  The results are surprising.  Many of these people are self-made, and super frugal.  They would not be easy to pick out of a crowd with their american made vehicles,  their ordinary houses, and off the rack suits.

The book is very informative and gives great advice about what to do to become wealthy.  The first point: high income: is obvious, but the second: frugal living is not as expected.  The author points out that you can’t always tell these millionaires from their middle class surroundings and lifestyles.

Some parts of this book are a little dry, but the data itself is interesting.

a few more books

Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms Eugenia Bone, 2011, Rodale Books, non-fiction. Steve saw this book  in the Star Tribune.  He got it from the library, and then, of course, I read it as well.  We both really liked it and got it as a shared Christmas gift.  I found the chapter about the future of truffle cultivation really interesting, but really this book goes into every aspect about fungi – except identification.

That Crumpled Paper Was Due Last Week: Helping Disorganized and Distracted Boys Succeed in School and Life by Ana Homayoun, 2010, Penguin Group, non-fiction.   Hmm, I wonder why I checked out this book from the library.  Is there a particular person I was thinking of? Anyway, this is fairly helpful book.  Some things I had already figured out, like limiting electronics while my kids studied.  If you don’t have a lot of time, most of the information I was interested was in Chapter 5: organizing binders and planners. The first few chapters deal with anecdotes and the last few with special circumstances, which fortunately we don’t have.  It is an easy book to read and I will reread Chapter 4, 5 and 8 again to solidify what I read in my mind.

The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Schaffert, 2002, Penguin Putman Inc., fiction.  I read the first few chapters of this book on the chapter a day emails I get.  The first few chapters were very engaging and the premise was nice.  He does maintain that sort engaging style through the whole book.  He also captures the feeling of  the feckless late adolescence – early 20s time in life.  However, although things happen in this book, they don’t seem to affect the characters.  The two main characters seem unchanged by the one meeting her mother after a long period of abandonment and the other one being separated from her sister for the first time.  There is a lack of stake in this book that I think is its failing.

The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been . . . and Where We’re Going by George Friedman, 2011, Random House.   His basic premise is the United States is a global empire and the president is the emperor. He defines what he means by an empire, and his reasons for believing the United States is one. Then he goes on to make deep detailed predictions on how the United States will be interacting with the world in the next decade.  He goes through every important country in the world, and several that I didn’t even realize their importance.  He talks about historical influences on modern situations that I had not considered such as the triad of power of Russia, France and Germany, and how that affects modern foreign affairs. He talks about cultural and economic pressures. All in all, it is a comprehensive study of geopolitical pressures in the next decade.