Thursday, August 25, 2011

A First-Rate Madness - Nassir Ghaemi

Title: A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Link Between Leadership and Mental Illness
Author: Nassir Ghaemi
Hardcover: 340 pages
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Published Date: August 4, 2011
FTC: received for TLC book tour

Let me start by saying that this was a fabulously interesting read. I have not read a book where I flopped so much from "I totally agree" to "ummm really?"  Go read this now.  I need to discuss!!

The synopsis:

An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history’s greatest politicians, generals, and business people.

My thoughts:

The above synopsis was much much longer so I shortened it to the first paragraph.  Please head over to TLC book tours to read the whole synopsis should you want.  Basically this book comes down to the idea that mental illnesses, such as manic depression, bi-polar disorder, and others may in fact have some benefits for leaders during times of crisis.

The best way for me to break this all down is how he did with his chapter headings.  Part One-Four goes over the four ways mental illnesses can be beneficial: they provide CREATIVITY, REALISM, EMPATHY, and RESILIENCE.  I capitalized those because I totally agree with Dr Ghaemi.

[ I remember taking an anthropology class in college and finding out there are traits that, on the surface seem debilitating, but in reality are meant for specific purposes.  For instance, color blindness may seem like a debilitating trait, but they are wonderful for seeing through jungle settings - i.e. camouflage isn't effective on them.  The military used to (or still does) hire them for that purpose.   Same goes for blue eyes - they are better equipped for seeing images on a monochromatic setting - such as a large swath of ice/snow and sky. Ok.  Moving on.]

Here's the basic first four chapter examples:

Creativity - General Sherman (Civil War), Ted Turner (TV mogul)
Realism - Winston Churchill (WWII), Abraham Lincoln (Civil War)
Empathy - Mahatma Gandhi (India Independence), Martin Luther King, Jr (American Civil Rights)
Resilience - Franklin Roosevelt (Great Depression/WW2), John F. Kennedy (Cuban Missile Crisis)

I loved loved reading these chapters.  Perhaps it's because of my history major background, but I adored this perspective. In the Epilogue, Dr Ghaemi states, "The general approach I take in this book might be called psychological history..."  I think that's a fabulous statement.  Looking at the above leaders and their psychological well-being (or not), I found this book to be intensely interesting.

However, my history teachers also told me to never take a history book as fact: see who's writing, find out if they have an agenda, what their perspective is, and always be aware of stats (ok that last part came from my statistics class - finding out that stats can always be manipulated.)

Which isn't saying that Dr Ghaemi has any nefarious plans with this book.  In fact, a lot of the times when I went I thought "well, I totally don't agree with that" - he usually followed up in a page or two a rebuttal to my thoughts.  For instance, stating that Dr King was depressed and thought about death a lot proved mental illness - well, I sort of laughed because, well of course...death threats...he was assassinated!!  But in the Epilogue Dr Ghaemi states, "King was not depressed because he 'had' the illness of depression, this colleague remarked: he was depressed because of the extreme stress of living with the danger of death daily. This may be, or it could be that he had the disease of depression, or both. This problem can't be easily dismissed: it is a profound dilemma that has exasperated philosophers for at least three centuries..." (pg 269). 

My eye-brow raising happened again with the chapter on JFK.  Do you all realize how much drugs the man was on - for health problems AND drug abuse?  Very interesting.  But then it didn't fit into Dr Ghaemi's neat explanation...which came to the interesting chapter on TREATMENT.  This chapter focused on how dangers leaders can become when treated with or abusing drugs - i.e. early JFK and Hitler.  O yeah.  The Hitler section is fascinating.

The only weak link I really find with this book is the last section - MENTAL HEALTH.  While I totally see how mental illness can (sometimes in certain circumstances) have benefits for leaders in power.  I can also see how sometimes it is dangerous for leaders in power to have mental illness (especially when abusing drugs at the same time).  What I don't completely follow is his explanation that mentally healthy leaders can be a bad choice during times of crisis - i.e. Tony Blair and George W. Bush.  I think this can be a dangerous ground to tread - not because the said leaders are alive and still very controversial - but because there are such a plethora of leaders.  Are ALL mentally sane leaders horrible during times of crisis?  Are ALL mentally ill leaders perfect during crisis times?  God forbid, what would have happened if after 9/11 we got a Hitler-esque mentally ill leader rather than a Bush?  I think I'd rather compare JFK's Vietnam involvement with Bush's invasions rather than compare it to the Cuba Missile Crisis.  And what if Bay of Pigs' JFK had his finger on the trigger during the Cuban Missile Crisis? You'll have to read the book to see what I mean.

Which comes to my conclusion: what a fabulous thought-provoking awesome book this is.  Please pick this up and read it and then comment so that I can discuss this book.  I am making my husband read it so that I can blab about it with someone.  It makes me think of what is mental health? What is mental illness?  Why do we have such a stigma attached to the term mentally ill?  Should we call it something else? Why don't I like thinking I'm a homoclite? Again, you'll have to read the book.

About Dr. Nassir Ghaemi

Dr. Nassir Ghaemi is a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and the director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.  He trained in psychiatry at, and also serves on the faculty of, Harvard University’s Medical School, and has degrees in history, philosophy and public health.

Visit Dr. Ghaemi at his website. Read his blog Mood Swings and Free Associations.


Nassir’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, August 23rd: Justice Jennifer
Wednesday, August 24th: Amusing Reviews
Thursday, August 25th: A Library of My Own
Friday, August 26th: Chunky Monkey
Monday, August 29th: What Would the Founders Think?
Tuesday, August 30th: Lit Endeavors
Wednesday, September 7th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, September 8th: The Left Coaster
Tuesday, September 13th: Deep Muck Big Rake
Thursday, September 15th: Everyone Needs Therapy
Tuesday, September 20th: Cogitamus and LitBrit
Friday, September 23rd: Whiskey Fire
Wednesday, September 28th: The Abraham Lincoln Blog
Date TBD: They Gave Us a Republic

Also reviewed:

NY Observer
Psychology Today

Watch Dr Ghaemi on The Colbert Report

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Little Rocket - 3 months old

Three months ago, little Rocket came into our world.  Here he is this morning:

By the way, we didn't get another dog - we are pet sitting :)

Or we go on walks.  My husband took this picture which I'm told, took a lot of patience in setting up:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mailbox Monday - August 22nd

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday. This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Staci at Life in the Thumb.

Make sure to visit Staci’s blog today and add your link … you’ll also find links to other readers’ mailboxes there.

To see the schedule of this meme’s host, please visit the dedicated blog.

Here is what I found in my mailbox this week:

Before Versailles by Karleen Koen - I won from Enchanted by Josephine. Isn't it a beautiful book?

Red-Robed Priestess by Elizabeth Cunningham - Unsolicited review copy but sounds pretty interesting!

These aren't mailbox books but are new additions anyway.

From the clubhouse freebie shelf in my neighborhood:

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving your infant the gift of night-time sleep  - Even though my little guy sleeps very well through the night, I can't guarantee that when he starts teething.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave - I've heard wonderful things about this book.

From the library book sale:

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende - Isn't this such a score? I adore Isabel Allende and am trying to collect all her books.

Lord of the Rings books - I read the first one way way back in high school or earlier and wasn't impressed. I figured I need to re-read and for two bucks...

Also library book sale:

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - I've heard people gushing about how awesome John Green is so I thought why not.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett  - Ok I actually got this one at Sam's Club. I've been wanting to read  it, we picked it for our book club, and I never ever find it used.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem - This one sounded good and something my husband would like too.

The Vine of Desire by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni - The second book after Sister of My Heart.  I read these two books in college (for fun) and was blown away.  If you haven't read these books - do now. 

And from friends and family:

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office - A friend loaned me this book because she said it is awesome.

Diaper Diaries - My mother in law in me this one. I looks cute :)

That's all for this week.  Oh, and let's not forget a little man photo:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens Graphic Novel

Title: Cowboys & Aliens
Authors: Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Fred Van Lente, Andrew Foley, Dennis Calero, Luciano Lima, Luciano Kars, J Wilson, Silvio Spotti, Andy ELder
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: It - imprint of HarperCollins
Published Date: June 2011
FTC: I requested it from HC

When I first heard about the movie Cowboys & Aliens, I was super ecstatic.  I mean come on! Cowboys....aliens....Daniel Craig.  What more could you want!

Now I still haven't seen the movie. I know I know.  It's been a tad bit harder than I was expecting having a little man who needs constant watching and not having family in town.  I WILL see it though.

So when I was perusing the web and found out that Cowboys & Aliens was originally a graphic novel and that Harper Collins signed them to publish it, well, I immediately contacted HC to see if I could review the book.

When the book came in the mail the first though was - my gosh it's gorgeous.  The cover and pages are so well done - I immediately set aside everything I was doing to read it (right after I snapped a photo and sent it to my husband bragging about my new read).

Awesome, right?  The pages are all in color and so beautiful.  My favorite ones are from these pages:

What surprised me was the message - obvious in the graphic novel but I wonder about the movie.  The similarity between the aliens wanting to take over and dominate earth because of the alien's superior weapons....hmmm....ring any bells from the history of the Americas?

I wanted to take a ton of pictures of the book but I didn't want to get into trouble.  I just want to entice you to pick up this novel.  While I'm not a huge connoisseur of graphic novels, I thought this one was absolutely beautifully done and quite interesting.

That said...anyone want to babysit while I check this out at the theater?  :)

While perusing the internet, I found the animated graphic novel of Cowboys & Aliens.  Awesome!!

I had to go outside of my normal bloggy reads to find some reviews.  Here we go.

Also Reviewed by:
SciFi Chick
Murphy's Library
Lady Ozma's Journey
Yahoo! News: Interview w/ Fred Van Lente

Fun movie mentions:
Book Chatter
Enchanted Serenity of Period Films
Megan Frampton (finally saw Daniel Craig in chaps)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

European Queens Giveaway!!

I've been remiss in posting a couple of extremely cool giveaways. The publishers are being awesome and letting me give away one copy of Becoming Marie Antoinette (my review) and one copy of Reign of Madness (my review).

Please fill out the form below enter the giveaway for Becoming Marie Antoinette and Reign of Madness.  You can enter for one or both.  For extra entries, post a comment on my reviews, Facebook/blog/Tweet about this giveaway, and/or be a follower of my blog.  The contest is open through August 31st.  US/Canada entries only please.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Las Vegas Book Club

My friend and I are starting a book club here in Las Vegas.  I am currently trying to recruit some friends.  Do you have a book club?  Do you have any tips or pointers? 

We are thinking of having our first book be The Help.  I've heard you really can't go wrong - and the movie is coming out so great timing!

Now I just need to come up with a snazzy name for our book club...

The Times 100 Best English Language Novels (1923-present)

You know how I love a good challenge...and lists. So when I checked out Amanda's new blog Book Chaos and saw she is doing The Times 100 Best English Language Novels from 1923-present - I thought I'd join in.  After all, 100 is a lot more reasonable than 1001, right?

Read: 17
Reviewed: 6

A - B

  • The Adventures of Augie March (1953), by Saul Bellow
  • All the King's Men (1946), by Robert Penn Warren
  • American Pastoral (1997), by Philip Roth
  • An American Tragedy (1925), by Theodore Dreiser
  • Animal Farm (1946), by George Orwell
  • Appointment in Samarra (1934), by John O'Hara
  • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), by Judy Blume
  • The Assistant (1957), by Bernard Malamud
  • At Swim-Two-Birds (1938), by Flann O'Brien
  • Atonement (2002), by Ian McEwan
  • Beloved (1987), by Toni Morrison
  • The Berlin Stories (1946), by Christopher Isherwood
  • The Big Sleep (1939), by Raymond Chandler
  • The Blind Assassin (2000), by Margaret Atwood
  • Blood Meridian (1986), by Cormac McCarthy
  • Brideshead Revisited (1946), by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927), by Thornton Wilder

C - D

  • Call It Sleep (1935), by Henry Roth
  • Catch-22 (1961), by Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger
  • A Clockwork Orange (1963), by Anthony Burgess
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), by William Styron
  • The Corrections (2001), by Jonathan Franzen
  • The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), by Thomas Pynchon
  • A Dance to the Music of Time (1951), by Anthony Powell
  • The Day of the Locust (1939), by Nathanael West
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927), by Willa Cather
  • A Death in the Family (1958), by James Agee
  • The Death of the Heart (1958), by Elizabeth Bowen
  • Deliverance (1970), by James Dickey
  • Dog Soldiers (1974), by Robert Stone

F - G

  • Falconer (1977), by John Cheever
  • The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), by John Fowles
  • The Golden Notebook (1962), by Doris Lessing
  • Go Tell it on the Mountain (1953), by James Baldwin
  • Gone With the Wind (1936), by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939), by John Steinbeck
  • Gravity's Rainbow (1973), by Thomas Pynchon
  • The Great Gatsby (1925), by F. Scott Fitzgerald

H - I

  • A Handful of Dust (1934), by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter (1940), by Carson McCullers
  • The Heart of the Matter (1948), by Graham Greene
  • Herzog (1964), by Saul Bellow
  • Housekeeping (1981), by Marilynne Robinson
  • A House for Mr. Biswas (1962), by V.S. Naipaul
  • I, Claudius (1934), by Robert Graves
  • Infinite Jest (1996), by David Foster Wallace
  • Invisible Man (1952), by Ralph Ellison

L - N

  • Light in August (1932), by William Faulkner
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), by C.S. Lewis
  • Lolita (1955), by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Lord of the Flies (1955), by William Golding
  • The Lord of the Rings (1954), by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Loving (1945), by Henry Green
  • Lucky Jim (1954), by Kingsley Amis
  • The Man Who Loved Children (1940), by Christina Stead
  • Midnight's Children (1981), by Salman Rushdie
  • Money (1984), by Martin Amis
  • The Moviegoer (1961), by Walker Percy
  • Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf
  • Naked Lunch (1959), by William Burroughs
  • Native Son (1940), by Richard Wright
  • Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson
  • Never Let Me Go (2005), by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • 1984 (1948), by George Orwell

O - R

  • On the Road (1957), by Jack Kerouac
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), by Ken Kesey
  • The Painted Bird (1965), by Jerzy Kosinski
  • Pale Fire (1962), by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A Passage to India (1924), by E.M. Forster
  • Play It As It Lays (1970), by Joan Didion
  • Portnoy's Complaint (1969), by Philip Roth
  • Possession (1990), by A.S. Byatt
  • The Power and the Glory (1939), by Graham Greene
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), by Muriel Spark
  • Rabbit, Run (1960), by John Updike
  • Ragtime (1975), by E.L. Doctorow
  • The Recognitions (1955), by William Gaddis
  • Red Harvest (1929), by Dashiell Hammett
  • Revolutionary Road (1961), by Richard Yates

S - T

  • The Sheltering Sky (1949), by Paul Bowles
  • Slaughterhouse Five (1969), by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Snow Crash (1992), by Neal Stephenson
  • The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), by John Barth
  • The Sound and the Fury (1929), by William Faulkner
  • The Sportswriter (1986), by Richard Ford
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1964), by John le Carre
  • The Sun Also Rises (1926), by Ernest Hemingway
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Things Fall Apart (1959), by Chinua Achebe
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), by Harper Lee
  • To the Lighthouse (1927), by Virginia Woolf
  • Tropic of Cancer (1934), by Henry Miller

U - W

  • Ubik (1969), by Philip K. Dick
  • Under the Net (1954), by Iris Murdoch
  • Under the Volcano (1947), by Malcolm Lowry
  • Watchmen (1986), by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
  • White Noise (1985), by Don DeLillo
  • White Teeth (2000), by Zadie Smith
  • Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), by Jean Rhys

Graphic Novels

  • Berlin: City of Stones (2000), by Jason Lutes
  • Blankets (2003), by Craig Thompson
  • Bone (2004), by Jeff Smith
  • The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2002), by Kim Deitch
  • The Dark Knight Returns (1986), by Frank Miller
  • David Boring (2000), by Daniel Clowes
  • Ed the Happy Clown (1989), by Chester Brown
  • Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (2000), by Chris Ware
  • Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories (2003), by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Watchmen (1986), by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Monday, August 15, 2011

Reign of Madness - Lynn Cullen

Title: Reign of Madness
Author: Lynn Cullen
Hardcover: 448 pages (ARC paperback version)
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Published Date: August 4, 2011
FTC: received for TLC tours

I've always been quite curious about Spanish history.  As a history major, I learned a lot about British history but other countries - not so much.  So when I heard about Lynn Cullen's novel about Juana of Castile (sometimes named Joanna or Juana de loca - the mad) I was intrigued.  She was the daughter of Isabel and Ferdinand...sound familiar?  They were THE Isabel and Ferdinand who helped  Christopher Columbus get to America - well he always thought it was China and India.  I found this to be a beautiful and fascinating novel.

They synopsis:

Juana of Castile, third child of the Spanish monarchs Isabel and Fernando, grows up with no hope of inheriting her parents’ crowns, but as a princess knows her duty: to further her family’s ambitions through marriage. Yet stories of courtly love, and of her parents’ own legendary romance, surround her. When she weds the Duke of Burgundy, a young man so beautiful that he is known as Philippe the Handsome, she dares to hope that she might have both love and crowns. He is caring, charming, and attracted to her-seemingly a perfect husband.
But what begins like a fairy tale ends quite differently.

When Queen Isabel dies, the crowns of Spain unexpectedly pass down to Juana, leaving her husband and her father hungering for the throne. Rumors fly that the young Queen has gone mad, driven insane by possessiveness. Who is to be believed? The King, beloved by his subjects? Or the Queen, unseen and unknown by her people?

One of the greatest cautionary tales in Spanish history comes to life as Lynn Cullen explores the controversial reign of Juana of Castile-also known as Juana the Mad. Sweeping, page-turning, and wholly entertaining, Reign of Madness is historical fiction at its richly satisfying best.

My thoughts:

What an amazingly interesting story about Juana's life.  As usual, I always have to see what these characters really looked like.  Here's the most famous image of Juana:
Juana de Castile

I think her upbringing was amazing.  Unlike Marie Antoinette (I can't help comparing because I just read her story), Juana was superbly educated and extremely smart (check her wiki page).  Early in the book she is witness to Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) as he presents his early finds from what will be the Americas - Native Americans or Indios, gold, food, and animals.  Juana also meets Colon's son - Diego who will be her friend and more in the following years.  Here's Diego:
Diego Colon
But of course, Juana must marry for her family and country so she gets bundled off to the cold and dreary Flemish countryside to marry Philip the Handsome.  Ok.  So I am pretty disappointed in Philip the Handsome's photo.  Serious?  Was this considered "handsome" in the day?
Philip the Handsome
He looks like what his character really was - a petulant boy who always gets what he wants.  Much to Lynn Cullen's credit, I really felt for all the characters - especially Philip the Handsome.  I feel like there was a lot of mis-trust and lack of respect on Juana's part - which in part helped turn Philip into a cruel husband.  Still, until almost the end, Philip remained almost likeable, if not spoiled.

What I loved:

Juana was an amazingly beautiful and educated person, but she was often too trusting.  I loved Lynn Cullen's portrayal of her relationship with her mother, Isabel. Very early in the book, Juana learns of her father's infidelity which pretty much taints her future relationship with her mother, father, and her husband.  She's also influenced by how strong of a woman and ruler her mother is - and how that's affected her mother and father's marriage.  Here's Isabel (how gorgeous is she?):
Isabel of Castile

I loved the side characters - her main lady in waiting is Beatriz, who is this amazingly brilliant woman who is more interested in education than getting married.  Interestingly enough, Isabel's sister - Catalina - becomes very famous herself as Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine.  Here's a young Catherine:

Catherine of Aragon
I adored the relationship between Juana and Diego.  I love when historical fiction takes something that is very plausible and works it all out.  I was fascinated with how Juana becomes known as "loco" and you'll just have to read the book to see why that is.  This was a wonderfully written tale of Juana de Castile.  I'll never be able to call her Juana de loca again.  If you like historical fiction, forget the Tudors and check out Reign of Madness.

Lynn Cullen also wrote a previous book I'm really interested in reading.  It's called The Creation of Eve and is about the historical character Sofonisba Anguissola, a woman artist working with Michelangelo. 

Lynn Cullen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, July 25th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, July 26th:  Rundpinne
Wednesday, July 27th:  Unabridged Chick
Thursday, July 28th:  Debbie’s Book Bag
Monday, August 1st:  The Broke and the Bookish
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, August 4th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, August 8th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 9th:  Broken Teepee
Wednesday, August 10th:  Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, August 11th:  Cafe of Dreams
Friday, August 12th:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
Monday, August 15th:  A Library of My Own
Tuesday, July 16th:  Life in Review
Wednesday, August 17th:  Simply Stacie
Thursday, August 18th:  Book Addiction
Monday, August 22nd:  One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Wednesday, August 24th:  Starting Fresh

Check out Lynn Cullen on Facebook and her beautiful website

Saturday, August 13, 2011

NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction

NPR came out with their Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books.  As you know, I love lists and I actually really love sci-fi.  It's been getting some attention by fellow bloggers such as Drey's Library and Alive on the Shelves. I love Carl's posts over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Wouldn't this list be a great starting point for the Sci-Fi Challenge he hosts?  I actually like the much longer list - way more to choose from.

What do you think of this list?  Anything you are shocked to see on here or disappointed to not find?  I always find it odd that whole series are listed - for instance ALL the Dune Chronicles  or A Song of Ice and Fire Series.  I think you could almost make that a list in of itself - best Sci-Fi series.

**Going through the list, I realized that you all may NOT have realized I'm a sci-fi fan!  I've never reviewed a Connie Willis book (my gosh I own so many) and I've only reviewed ONE Neil Gaiman.  Apparently I have a lot of catching up to do.

Anyway, I'm going to link this list to my challenges pages.  I'll bold the ones I've read and link any reviews I have. 

Read: 19
Read some of the series: 7

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, - J.R.R. Tolkien (Read Hobbit and Lord of the Rings)
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles - Frank Herbert (Dune - Book 1)
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series - George R. R. Martin (A Game of Thrones)
6. 1984 - George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov (Foundation)
9. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series - Robert Jordan (Books 1-8)
13. Animal Farm - George Orwell
14. Neuromancer - William Gibson
15. Watchmen - Alan Moore
16. I, Robot - Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles - Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind)
19. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
22. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
23. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
24. The Dark Tower Series - Stephen King
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Arthur C. Clarke
26. The Stand - Stephen King
27.  Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
28. The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
29. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Sandman Series - Neil Gaiman (Book 1)
31. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
32. Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down - Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz - Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea - Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon - Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds - H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber - Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad - David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series - Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld - Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King - T.H. White
48. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact - Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos - Dan Simmons
52. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z - Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War - Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods - Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever - Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth - Terry Goodkind
63. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga - Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy - Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series - R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy - Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth - Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series - R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War - John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age - Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama - Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series - Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed - Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series - Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series - Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
85. Anathem - Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series - Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun - Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy - Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series - Diana Gabaldan (Outlander, Book One)
90. The Elric Saga - Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man - Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine - Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep - Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel - Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer - Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book - Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station - China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series - Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vegas Summer

Sitting with friends at a golf course, drinking ice tea - taken last weekend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Becoming Marie Antoinette - Juliet Grey

Title: Becoming Marie Antoinette (Book 1)
Author: Juliet Grey
Paperback: 444 pages (ARE version)
Publisher: Ballantine/Random House
Published Date: August 9, 2011
FTC: received for TLC Book Tours

When I saw that TLC Book Tours was hosting Juliet Grey's new novel Becoming Marie Antoinette, I quickly asked if I could join.  I am completely fascinated with the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette's role.  I've read some books revolving around the Revolution but this is my first book about Marie Antoinette.  I always thought she was misunderstood.  What do they always say? Truth is stranger (and sometimes a lot more interesting) that fiction?  Book one in a trilogy of Marie Antoinette's life, it spans her childhood in Vienna to her marriage to the dauphin of France, Louis XVI.  The book ends with King Louis XV's death which will propel the young couple into the life of King and Queen of France.

This is historical fiction at it's finest.  The book starts out with ten-year old Marie Antonia growing up in her Vienna palace surrounded by beloved sisters and brothers (click here for amazing 360 degree photos of the palace rooms).  While I knew Marie Antoinette wasn't French, I had no clue about her illustrious upbringing as the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa - she was one of sixteen children!  Can  you imagine this being your mother?

Ahem. Yeah.  At the beginning of the book we learn her family, The Hapsburg Dynasty's motto: Others wage ware; you, happy Austria, marry.  I loved Antonia's close relationship with her sister Charlotte (Maria Carolina):

Can you imagine growing up with your sister, only to have her married off to be Queen of Naples and Sicily and never seeing her again?

Marie Antonia and her siblings purpose was to provide peace for Europe.  Coming out of a couple of wars, Austria needed peace and allies.  Marie Antonia's learned her purpose: to marry dauphin of France to ensure her country would not be overrun by the Russians or the Prussians.  Talk about the weight of the world on your shoulders!

What I adored about this novel is how sympathetic Marie Antonia is and how much she strives to be what her mother wants her to be.  Amazingly, Marie Antonia's education is pretty neglected so as soon as her impending marriage is decided, her life's purpose is to become a suitable match for the dauphin of France.

Her appearance must be altered to make a young girl appear to be a woman capable of being a wife and mother.  Marie Antonia gets braces (how crazy is that?), a personal hairstylist, dance lessons, and training how to do the Versailles glide (walking that looks like you're gliding on air).  She must learn geography, French, court customs, the list goes on and on. 

I loved looking up the images of Marie Antoinette.  Did you know she had two portraits painted so the King of France could see her image and approve her match?  The first portrait made her appear too young and the Empress immediately requested another one made.  Here's the first one:

Here's the one they approved:

I was absolutely amazed by Juliet Grey's ability to weave a ton of fact into a lovely novel about a girl forced to marry a boy she'd never seen.  Her sympathy and affection for both Marie Antonia and her husband, the young dauphin, is quite clear and beautifully rendered.  Don't expect this book to be a quick or light read.  It's chock full of historical detail (which I love) and takes it time to build up (she finally meets the dauphin about 200 pages into the book). 

Juliet Grey will be coming out with the second book- Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow - next summer.  I can not wait.

PS - Passages to the Past is hosting a live chat with Juliet Grey tonight - August 10th 7-8 PM EST.

Juliet Grey’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, August 1st:  Diary of an Eccentric
Wednesday, August 3rd:  Well Read Wife
Thursday, August 4th:  Broken Teepee
Monday, August 8th:  Coffee and a Book Chick
Tuesday, August 9th:  The Maiden’s Court
Wednesday, August 10th:  A Library of My Own
Thursday, August 11th:  Stiletto Storytime
Monday, August 15th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, August 16th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, August 17th:  Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, August 18th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, August 22nd:  The Broke and the Bookish
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Stephanie’s Written Word
Wednesday, August 24th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, August 29th:  Book Reviews by Molly
Wednesday, August 31st:  So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Date TBD:  Historical Tapestry 

Also Reviewed by:

Devourer of Books
Historical Fiction
Fyrefly's Book Blog
Historical Fiction
Endless Reading
Scandalous Women (Guest Post by Juliet Grey)
Pittsburgh, PA Examiner (Interview w/ Juliet Grey)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Little Rocket - Almost 11 weeks

Finally little Rocket is down for a nap without me holding him.  I guess it's the perfect time to post a few photos of my new little addition.  Monday will be 11 weeks since he came into this world and I couldn't be happier.  He is such a wonderful baby, sleeps amazingly well through the night, and is giving me the cutest little smiles now.  I even caught a few laughs the last couple of days!  Without further ado, here's me and Rocket last Sunday:

How cute and chunky is he?  I'm trying to do the whole breastfeeding thing and apparently it's working - very well.  He is super healthy and chunky.  When he was seven weeks he weighed 14 pounds 3 ounces.

You might have noticed I now have short hair! I've been debating cutting it for a while and when I saw Color Me Katie's post about donating to Locks of Love - I decided to do that as well.  Here I am with longer hair and Rocket's first official bath:

I have pretty straight hair, as you can tell.  My husband has very curly hair.  So little man's hair is very curly when wet.  To cut down on the cradle cap, I brush it after his bath.  I can't help messing with it...thus the curly mohawk here:

I love having short hair right now.  I feel very Doctor Girlfriend.

He's learned to suck his thumb (since about week 2). This is Rocket at 8 1/2 weeks:

He's so adorable when he sleeps:

And he's awake now, so blogging time is over.  I will share more later - and take more photos NOT on the iPhone - hate the whole geo-tagging thing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Currently Reading - Aug 4, 2011

Currently reading and loving book one in Juliet Grey's new trilogy - Becoming Marie Antoinette - which comes out August 9th.

By the way, after seeing some of BookBath's cool photo posts, I am trying out Instagram photos - how fun!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ghost of Greenwich Village Giveaway Winner!

I think it's about time I picked a winner for Lorna Graham's novel The Ghost of Greenwich Village.

Using a random sequence generator, the winner is:

Joan G.

I'll be emailing you for your contact info so the publisher can send it out to you.  Cheers!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mailbox Monday - August 1st

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday. This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Staci at Life in the Thumb.

Make sure to visit Staci’s blog today and add your link … you’ll also find links to other readers’ mailboxes there.

To see the schedule of this meme’s host, please visit the dedicated blog.

I'm actually on the ball this week and doing a Mailbox Monday ON Monday!! Woohoo!

Here's what actually came in the mail:

I requested Cowboys & Aliens from Harper Collins because I am dying to see the movie and didn't know it was a graphic novel! I soaked it up the day it came and will review it soon!

Domestic Violets from Harper Collins - heard great reviews and my husband is snagging it to read next.

The Graveyard Book - I won this over at Underneath the Juniper Tree: The new face of children's literature - If you haven't checked them out
Then come back and read my review. I love love this book.  I actually won a crazy beautiful limited edition copy (pictures posted on my review) but I wanted a copy that I could re-read and then read to my little guy when he is older.

From the library book sale.  Yeah, before you judge - I had to return A Moveable Feast (review coming soon) so I just made sure we did the return at a library with a good book sale room.  My husband's patience with me is astounding.

Lulu in Marrakech - Diane Johnson
Lucrezia Borgia - Sarah Bradford
Bluebird or, the Invention of Happiness - Sheila Kohler

The 7 Stages of Motherhood - Ann Pleshette Murphy
The Gentleman Poet: A novel of love, danger, and Shakespeare's The Tempest - Kathryn Johnson
My Mother's Lovers - Christopher Hope

That's it for now!!  Have you read any of these??  Thoughts??