What's Going On Here?

There are SO MANY wonderful book review blogs out there and I can't compete with them, that is for sure. So this is not a book review blog. This is just a way for me to organize what I have read so that I can be better at matching the right book to the right person. The blog title comes from the brilliant mind of the most talented woman who ever lived, Ms. Judy Garland. The full quote is, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else." That is what I hope to do here and in ever aspect of my life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Robots in the Wild

If I had a Newbery pick it would be Wild Robot.  This was not (yet) on the list for the goodread group I follow, but I hope it will be, or at least considered.  In addition to being different, totally fresh, well written and pretty much amazing, kids would really enjoy it, too.  

Recommendations from my brother

My brother is an adult services librarian.  He is a nonfiction kinda guy.  Mostly memoirs and biographies and he recommended Too Fat to Fish by Artie Lange.  And I am very glad that I listened to it.  It was just a coincidence that I have been on a stand-up comic book streak lately, with Michael Ian Black, Joan Rivers and Jim Gaffigan.  Artie Lange is offensive and funny.  Not as funny as Joan or Gaffigan.  And not as offensive as Michael Ian Black, but still offensive and funny.  This book was very touching in places and very funny in places and very sad in places.  The story about Artie's parents and Frankie Valli was especially dear.  Well, all of the stories about Artie's parents are touching.  Lange had to stop the audio reading of the book after the sixth chapter because of drug problems and he had Bob Levy, Gary Dell'Abate and Jim Florentine  take turns finishing it.  I found the book a great listen, but I feel bad about enjoying it so much, because Lange was in such bad shape, even while writing and reading it.  He is to be commended for his honesty and bravery, to be so open about his struggles.  It wasn't a "I was mess and now I am fine!" story of triumph, it was just real and honest.  I know him only from the Howard Stern show and I had heard of MAD tv, but never saw it.  Artie, many prayers to you, man.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hard Not to Give 5 Stars to GP

Field Trip is the sequel to Road Trip, books written by Gary and his son, Jim Paulsen.  Here is a Q and A with father and son! This is more than a "dog story."  And NO DOGS DIE, by the way!  And it is more than a funny story, though it is funny.  It is another one of those Paulsen-magic-books-that-have-a-lesson-but-in-no-way-preachy-in-fact-you-don't-even-know-there-is-a-lesson deals.  Because I don't think Paulsen writes to teach a lesson.  I think he just writes about life and life just teaches us lessons.  And we learn from them sometimes and sometimes we don't.  Great stuff.  Really.  Thank you, Paulsens.

Kellermans in a Row

After reading Savage Spawn, I thought I would pick up an Alex Delaware, as it had been a while for me.  As I have said before, I am more of a Faye fan than Jonathan.  Compulsion was okay.  It seems that I still favor the Mrs. over the Mr.  It might be the whole Robin-Alex thing.  It might have been that this particular mystery seemed to lose me.  I still love Milo though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Get Me Some Kellerman

I have read a lot of Kellermans and written about them a lot, too.  Savage Spawn:  Reflections on Violent Children is an old nonfiction book.  Written in 1999, there are so many more horror stories that it would include today.  This was published just before the Columbine shooting, for example, I assume.  Although folks on goodreads remarked their surprise at it not being included, the book was published in 1999 and the massacre took place in 1999, and it takes a long process to write and publish a book, regardless of the exact date, this one was done before April 20.
In addition to being an author, Kellerman is has a PhD in Psychology and has done a great deal of work with children.  He is very informed on the topic.  This work seems like a very balanced read.  The pros and cons of nature vs. nurture, an examination of what begets violence, is it the media?  Maybe, maybe not.  Is it oppression?  Poverty?  Education?  Maybe, maybe not.  There is discussion of psychopathology as well.  A lot to think about and Kellerman doesn't claim that he or anyone has the answers. But one thing he definitely takes a stand on is children's access to guns.  He admits he has gotten a lot of criticism about this but it makes sense.  I know I always repeat the story that there was a knife attack in China in a school on the same day that the Sandy Hook nightmare occurred.  No fatalities.  Dude to strict gun laws.  Could anyone have stopped the nut who stabbed the Chinese children?  Could anyone have stopped the nut who shot the children of Sandy Hook?  Who knows?  But if the Sandy Hook nut had not had a gun....

Nameless

Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective series will always have a special place in my heart.  When I was leaving my pastoral position at the church it was a very hard time.  I couldn't sleep much and would read and read and read one Nameless case after another.  Zigzag: A Nameless Detective Collection is comprised of two novellas and two short stories, all very different and all very-- I suppose I could say "good" but it's not right, I guess "satisfying is the right word.  They are very good and additionally, satisfying.  Well done, interesting, and Nameless is very likable.  Maybe I will have to listen to some more of these.  The short stories were previously published and the novellas are new, but all four were new to me.  Good, good, satisfying, satisfying.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Gaffigan, Rivers and Black

Joan Rivers could be very offensive, but she was very funny.
Jim Gaffigan is not offensive and really funny.
Michael Ian Black is very offensive and mildly amusing.
You're Not Doing It Right:  Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death and Other Humiliations was hard for me. Black complains a lot about his children.  I am SUPER sensitive about this because my dear, sweet, loving, kind and beautiful personal adviser and her husband lost their beautiful, sweet, incredible baby girl before she was born.  And I feel like life is a sacred gift.  And I feel like joking about how much you don't like your kids is never funny.  And I am admit that this is a personal bias.  And so right away I didn't like MIB.  
Then I realized that he has written some children's picture books that I really like such as A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea and The Purple Kangaroo.  
I then found out he was on one of my most favorite shows from yesteryear, The State.  
Still, this book is not funny.  And I won't be reading another MIB book.  Some jokes are just "too soon" for always.


We Still Miss You

It has been nearly two years since the passing of the great Joan Rivers.  The Book of Joan:  Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation by her daughter, Melissa Rivers, was such a wonderful, wonderful read.  The two year anniversary of her death is September 4.  I loved listening to this book.  I just loved everything about it.  Melissa is honest and sincere and very funny on her own.
Yes, Joan Rivers did offend people, but I think they were people who didn't really take the time to explore all who Joan Rivers was.  And I know that Joan wouldn't care if she offended them or not.  Joan's style is not my style, but that is because I am not as brave.  And because I am not as funny!  No one is.  Joan Rivers, we will always miss you.