Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bayonet! Forward: My Civil War Reminiscences by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Bayonet! Forward: My Civil War Reminiscences by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain-328 pages

General Chamberlain was Colonel of the 20th Maine at Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg and successfully defended it with a bayonet charge. He was also at Fredericksburg, Petersburg, White Oak Road, Five Forks, and several other major Civil War battles in which the Union Army of the Potomac fought. Additionally, he (his division) was chosen to take the official surrender of arms of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia after Lee's surrender at Appamattox. I have previously read a biography about Chamberlain and one of his works and immediately wanted to read this book when I came across it on Goodreads. This was a good read and Chamberlain is clearly a good orator and writer, after all he was professor of rhetoric and oratory at Bowdoin College in Maine before his enlistment. His thoughts and remembrances of his experiences during the Civil War are compelling and thought-provoking, although glorifying of war and his experience a bit. One can tell that he was an intellectual, thoughtful man who was also humble and contrite. His thoughts on his peers and superiors are particularly compelling. Overall, this was a good read.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives by Marie Clayton

Marilyn Monroe: Unseen Archives Marie Clayton,  383 pages

This is the third Unseen Archives book I have read and the second one I have read by Marie Clayton.  I really enjoys these books.  I always enjoy a good biography, but these books are really nice because each chapter contains a summary of that particular time in their life and the pictures follow.  There were hundreds of pictures, many from her personal life, as well as many from her career. Marilyn Monroe had such a tragic life from the moment she was born, throughout her childhood and well through her adult life.  She lost many pregnancies and had a history of depression. Her life ended much to soon after her 36th birthday in 1962. The circumstances behind Marilyn's death have remained one of life's greatest mysteries.  She truly is an American icon.

Speaking American: A Visual Guide by Josh Katz

Speaking American: A Visual Guide by Josh Katz, 203 pages

Speaking American is a very entertaining and quick read about how the United States has different words or phrases depending on what region you live in.  For instance, I grew up in Chicago, and we said pop.  But, when I moved to Missouri I noticed people said soda. Or, in some regions people may say cola or Coke.  It is funny, but true. Or, who would think there is a difference between mowing the grass or cutting the grass or when we go grocery shopping, do we say we are putting our groceries in a shopping cart, grocery cart or buggy? Being from Chicago, I thought it was hilarious how you can tell someone is from Chicago, if they say, pop and gym shoes (instead of tennis shoes or sneakers).  It is also funny if you are from St. Louis, you say soda and outer roads (instead of frontage roads.)  The pictures and graphics are great in this book.  They were simple and great to use!  Speaking American was a very fun read!!  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

JFK & Jackie: Unseen Archives by Tim Hill

JFK & Jackie: Unseen Archives by Tim Hill, 381 pages

What better time to read a presidential biography then a few days before the Presidential Inauguration.  Not much was in this book that I did not already know about Kennedy.  Although,  I did not know he had some serious health issues that I had not been aware of and had been administered last rites.  And, I had not remembered that the couple had lost three babies.  Jackie had one miscarriage, one stillborn, and then a child who survived a few days.  Regardless of the fact that I was familiar with most information in this book,  I still found it a fascinating read.  The pictures were also a plus about this book.  I also liked that this book followed up with a few pages of Jackie's life after JFK.

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham, 224 pages

In this fun and funny autobiography, Lauren Graham gives us the good stuff about what it was like filming Gilmore Girls the first time, and then going back to the same character many years later. Well, maybe not ALL the good stuff. Graham's casual writing style and injected jokes make this a quick and breezy read, yet so interesting for us fans of both GG and Graham in general. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen - 290 pages; 6 hrs., 13 min.

Wahoo Cray's family business is animal wrangling.  Their Florida backyard menagerie includes alligators, snakes, monkeys, raccoons, snapping turtles, and more.  But NO iguanas ever since a rare freeze turned one into a frozen projectile that gave Wahoo's dad a serious head injury.

Since his dad has been unable to work the family can't pay their bills.  This forces his mom to (reluctantly) take a temporary teaching job in China to help out.

Now that school is out for summer, Wahoo's dad can accept a lucrative "reality" tv show job using Wahoo as his assistant.  But the star of the show, Derek Badger, is phony and arrogant--two things Wahoo's dad cannot tolerate.  Between taking care of the animals and acting as a buffer between his dad and the tv crew Wahoo has his hands full.  And then a classmate shows up with a black eye from her father!

The book is well written with plenty of heroics and just deserts.  I think most older elementary and middle school students would thoroughly enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick, 275 pages

I am not a big Anna Kendrick fan, but I do enjoy celebrity biographies.   I should have paid more attention to the title.  It took me a while to get into this book and when I did, it only lasted about ten pages.  The book follows Anna as she travels from her hometown in Maine to auditions in New York where she does land some impressive parts.  The book follows her move to LA to become a screen star.  She does score parts in the Twilight series and the movie Up in the Air with George Clooney.  Most people know Anna from the Pitch Perfect movies and her song Cups. Although this book is about a Hollywood star, I think Anna should have waited to write a memoir until she had a little more life under her belt then just the 31 years she is.