Review: Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Ramona the Pest
by Beverly Cleary
Rating *****
Read 7/31/2013

Stockard Channing does a great job narrating this classic. Ramona is going to kindergarten, and that’s such a gigantic event it overshadows everything. Until she decides she’s never, ever going back. Ramona’s so real, so exactly herself that even when she’s at her most annoying she’s entirely believable. Some of the classic Ramona moments are in this book, including the dawnzer confusion (with which I identify entirely) and the drama of the lost tooth. Lovely rendition.

Review: The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi & Hailey Beaune

The Naked Pint
by Perozzi & Beaune
Rating ***
Read 7/31/2013

7/2013 Picked this up since my true love has begun brewing his own beer, and I wanted to refresh my memories of this helpful book.

3/2010 Fun, breezy, informative and entirely irreverent. I learned a great deal about different kinds of beer. I’m also relieved to learn that I’m not crazy to think that really hoppy beer smells like skunky marijuana. Apparently that’s a good thing in the hop-head world. There’s beer made like Champagne, beer which is supposed to be aged in cellars… like any topic, the deeper one delves, the more the topic broadens out and becomes more complex, arcane, and delightful. Recommended.

Review: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Beezus and Ramona
by Beverly Cleary
Rating *****
Read 7/31/2013

I love the book, so naturally I wanted to try the audio. Stockard Channing makes Ramona very annoying indeed, which is just right. Ramona is perfectly herself while at the same time she is everyone who was ever four years old. Her parents in this book are just right, alternating between fond annoyance and overt annoyance. Beezus suffers long but gives as good as she gets. Highly recommended.

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

by Rainbow Rowell
Rating ****
Read 7/30/2013

Awww, this was just so… so… adorable. So perfectly rooted in time- probably resonated more with me because I was working in high tech when Y2K happened, so I remember the programmers playing Doom all night, the silly reprimands from IT about emails, and even the seriously hunky IT guy. Um. Yes, I dug this book, and it made me laugh time after time. The email (epistolary-mod) format worked really well in this context, especially since it was interleaved with more traditional chapters. I liked all the characters and thought that their unstated backstories were perfectly conceived in Rowell’s head- and that shows.

Review: The Things A Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

The Things A Brother Knows
by Dana Reinhardt
Rating ***
Read 7/29/2013

I really dug the STORY but I hated every minute of the first person, present tense. It nearly ruined the book for me, because it kept intruding into the narrative. I get why people think it contributes to the immediacy, the import, but oh, man do I hate hate hate it.

That being said, I did like the exploration of how a family member’s military service in wartime affects the family left behind, and how reintegrating into that family after one’s service is over can be problematic and fraught with all sorts of peril.

Review: If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley

If Walls Could Talk
by Lucy Worsley
Rating ***
Read 7/29/2013

What there was of it was terribly interesting, there just wasn’t enough of it. There were also precious few citations and no footnotes. Each chapter was much too short, and only just scratched the surface. To suit me, each chapter should have been a book of its own.

Also, I expected An Intimate History of the Home to be a history reaching back further in time, and ranging over more of the world. This should have been titled An Intimate History of the Home in Britain from the Normans On, With Special Attention Paid to the Tudor Court.

Worth picking up, but do align your expectations properly beforehand.

Review: The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman

The Making of a Chef
by Michael Ruhlman
Rating ***
Read 7/27/2013

Interesting though not riveting tale of a writer who goes to school at the CIA. I liked learning how Ruhlman made the transition in his head from “writer” to “cook” and I enjoyed the descriptions of the classes and the outsized personalities of the instructors. The narrator said ri-CO-tah instead of RI-CAH-teh, which bid fair to make me crazy every time. Yes, yes, I know it’s a perfectly acceptable alternate pronunciation. But it’s wrong to my ear.

Review: The Willamette River Field Guide by Travis Williams

The Willamette River Field Guide
by Travis Williams
Rating ***
Read 7/26/2013

While this book was good, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. It had a lot of conservation/ecology stuff in it, and though I’m a die-hard conservation/ecology proponent, I don’t need it in a field guide. Yes, I know we suck at rivers. We have always sucked at rivers, and even though we are trying to be better, we STILL suck at rivers. Got it. I liked the little wildlife call-outs, and the pictures were lovely. But as a field guide qua field guide, this left me wanting more, more about where to camp and where to pull out, more about where the private property starts and ends and less about how chemical runoff from agriculture threatens wildlife.

Review: Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed
Rating ****
Read 7/25/2013

This book made me want to run right out and hike the PCT. But not, you know, barefoot. Or broke. I was very involved throughout, and though much of the non-trail stuff made me cringe, the on-trail stuff kept me reading. I’m glad I read it, because it made me think that if she did okay on the trail, as woefully unprepared as she so clearly was, maybe I can do okay on it too.

Review: Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature
by Robin Brande
Rating *
Read 7/23/2013


I didn’t like this book even a little bit. I found the Christian science teacher unlikely, and her willingness to engage a student in discussion, even outside of school, about her religious convictions even more unlikely. There was an awful lot of telling in the book, and I didn’t resonate with any of the characters. I didn’t get what the love interest saw in the protagonist, I didn’t get why the parents were such meany-pantses, I didn’t get why anyone would ever, in a million years, go to a church like that. Mostly, I just don’t get organized religion, so this was probably not the book for me. I think, given the title, I was expecting a conversion from strict Biblical literalist interpretation to something more in line with accepted scientific thinking. What I got was[the tearful scene in the car, where nothing really changes for anyone and the parents are still hateful and the kid is still made to feel guilty.  I suppose there must be people like this abusive, cruel family out there somewhere. I don’t want to have to read about them.