Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Books for 2014

Believe it or not, this is our fourth year of committing to reading books from our To Be Read (TBR) piles and reporting on them on this here blog! (Our lists from 2011-2013 can be found over in the sidebar for anyone interested in delving deeper.)

Without further ado, here are our planned books to read in 2014...

Jenny's Books
Here is a screen cap of the books Jenny has chosen:
(click to see that bigger)

In alphabetical order, they are:
  1. All the Names by Jose Saramago (12.25.14)
  2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (6.23.14)
  3. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (6.8.14)
  4. How Fiction Works by James Wood (5.4.14)
  5. Life with my Sister Madonna by Christopher Ciccone (8.29.14)
  6. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin (11.1)
  7. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (8.22.14)
  8. Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt
  9. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Power (3.15.14)
  10. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (1.25.14)
  11. Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  12. Solar by Ian McEwan (9.20.14)
  13. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (12.20.14)
  14. The Widow's War by Sally Gunning (8.5.14)
Kelly's Books
Here is a screen cap of the books Kelly has chosen:
(click to see that bigger)

In alphabetical order, they are:
  1. Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle (12.01.14)
  2. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (05.15.14)
  3. Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis by Mark Binellimk (06.13.14)
  4. Digressions on Some Poems By Frank O'Hara: A Memoir by Joe LeSueur (08.12.14)
  5. Don't Know Much About History by Kenneth C. Davis 
  6. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (08.21.14)
  7. On Being Brown: What It Means to Be a Cleveland Browns Fan by Scott Huler (08.15.14)
  8. On Writing by Stephen King (01.20.14)
  9. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (09.22.14)
  10. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (04.16.14)
  11. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (11.21.14)
  12. The Size of Thoughts by Nicholson Baker (12.29.14)
  13. Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi 
  14. Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn (1.03.15 <-- Yes. Three days late.)
We each have 14 books on our lists -- 12 for 12 months, plus two alternates, just in case we cannot stand a couple of them. We will then write about them on this blog (Be forewarned: we are full of spoilers) and then we will cross 'em off on this list by linking to our reviews/reports.

This is part of the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader -- the site that originally lit the fires under our butts to get us working on our TBR piles in 2011. (Once again, thank you, Adam!) And now? We're clearly hooked.

    Completed: Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives

    Dear Jenny,

    Yup -- I'm skidding into the end of the year once again, but hey -- I got 'em done.

    This book was an awesome finish. Not only was it full of beautiful pictures (side benefit: this hastened the reading) but the story was also totally interesting. I was worried that the subtitle was setting me up for disappointment, but Florence Broadhurst had lives that were both secret and extraordinary!

    So crazy, but I love it.

    I don't know where I first came across this book, although I do read a lot of design blogs, so I'm guessing it was one of those. I'm glad I did -- the tale is interesting and the book is visually stunning. Win-win.

    Design: Monsterio.
    One of my faves -- I love the checkerboard in the flowers.

    Florence Broadhurst was born at the turn of the 20th century in Australia. Some say she was a businesswoman and some say she was a scam artist -- I think she was a successful combination of both.

    In her youth, she traveled through Asia and Europe singing and dancing with various performing troupes under an assumed name. When that dried up, she opened a school for dance and music in Shanghai under yet another name. And when that went south, she went back to Australia and became a landscape painter. Aaaand... after that, she decided to get into the handprinted wallpaper design business, for which she is best known today. So, you know, she did a lot of stuff.

    Florence in her 70s. Awesome flamboyance!

    She had a couple of husbands (one whom she wasn't actually married to, although they claimed they were) (scandalous!) and also had a son, who is interviewed extensively in this book. Shockingly, she was brutally murdered in her studio in 1977 and her killer was never found, although she had an acquantance who turned out to be a serial killer so it might have been him. But they never found out for sure, and he ended up committing suicide in prison. So that's all kinds of crazy.

    Design: Circles and Squares.
    This shows up in many different color combos in the book.
    I love it.

    While her entire life story is interesting, it's really the wallpaper design that ends up being the star of this book and, really, her life story. Her style was widely various, which has led to much speculation on whether or not she actually designed all of these wallpapers herself (over 500 different designs and she didn't start doing this until the last 20 years of her life!)

    Left: Horses Stampede. Right: Spotted Floral.
    One example of two very different designs.

    But this seems kind of crazy to me, as she had an army of people working for her, so if she wasn't doing the work, one of them would come have forward in the nearly 40 years since her death and admitted it, right? Members of her staff were interviewed for this book and, if anything, it sounds like a lot of her "designing" was more "direction" -- she had an idea and directed an artist working for her to create the design as she gave input. But I think that's a pretty common way for designers to design.

    Design: Summer Garden
    I love this treatment -- same wallpaper in both rooms,
    but grey in the bedroom and green in the bathroom. Lovely!

    The book itself had a pretty great layout -- obviously, a ton of photos between the text, but the writing was also very engaging. The chapters were sort of labeled as "acts" ("Backstage: the Broadhurst Factory" and "Curtain Call" are two) and there was a lot of interesting information about how handprinted wallpapers are actually made, including the incredible technical precision required (wallpaper seams that don't quite meet up are pretty darned obvious, right?)

    Design: Japanese Fans
    I'd love this in a fabric.

    Florence was a demanding boss, but obviously well loved and respected. I think the picture painted of the woman herself was respectful while still letting the reader know that this lady was a bit of a kook (and I mean that in the best way possible.)

    Design: Brushed Trellis
    Ok, this one is so dated -- it kind of cracks me up.

    One thing that's interesting about this story is that it's still evolving. After Florence was murdered, her son ran the family business for a couple of years, but then sold it to a big wallpaper conglomerate. They let the screens languish in a back room for years until someone finally came along and said, "Whoa. We could make some money off of these designs!" And now they're re-releasing them with great success.

    Design: Cockatoos
    Amazing art using Broadhurst's paper --
    body painting by artist Emma Hack.

    This book and a documentary in 2006 (I'd love to see that, but it seems rather difficult to find...) have also heightened awareness of these designs, fueling the Florence Love. There's a good Afterword in the book covering the topic, as the book was originally published in 2006, but my edition is from 2011.

    Very cool visual index of all patterns featured in the book.
    After all of the wallpaper removal we did in our last house, I never thought I would even consider hanging wallpaper in my home, but some of these photos are really inspirational. Maybe some accent walls? (Versus an entire room.)

    Design: Daisy Scatter
    Of course, this one made me think of you. ;)
    I really want to snap a bunch more photos to share with you, but I also need to get this review done. You can check out most of the designs from the book here (that's the company that is re-releasing the original designs).

    And with that, I have finished by TBR books for 2013! Now, to publish our 2014 lists. Wheee!


    PS -- This book was almost on the the TBP list because of the images, but it really was over 50% text, so I left it on this list as a book to be read. Also... what's going on with that TBP list anyway, right? Stay tuned -- I've got more to say about that soon!

    Sunday, December 29, 2013

    Completed: Notes from a Small Island

    Dear Jenny,

    This is my second repeat author in our TBR journey (I read At Home in 2012) and it was pretty great -- Bill Bryson has a terrific voice and, for part of this read, I actually got to hear his voice, as I also listened to some of the aBook, which is narrated by Bryson himself.

    I bought this book the first time I went to England, which was in 2001. I don't know why I haven't read it before now... guess that's just what happens to TBR books, right?

    Bryson wrote this as he was preparing to leave Britain after living there for 20 years. I, myself, have often dreamed of moving to England (the distance from loved ones has held me back -- California was far, but England is really far!) so it was great to read/hear his reminiscences of his time there.

    Also, Bill Bryson is hilarious.

    Here is my favorite passage -- this made me laugh out loud when I heard it the first time and I just laughed again, re-reading it:
    Because time was getting on, I decided to take a shortcut through the hilly woods, but I neglected to note that I was at the uppermost of a very tight band of contour lines. In consequence, I found myself a moment later descending a more or less perpendicular hill in an entirely involuntary fashion, bounding through the woods with great leaps and outflung arms in a manner oddly reminiscent of George Chakiris in West Side Story, except of course that this was Wales and George Chakiris didn't shit himself with terror, before eventually, after several bouncing somersaults and an epochal eighty-yard slide on my stomach, ending up on the very lip of a giddy precipice, with a goggle-eyed view of the glittery Wye a hundred feet below. I cast my gaze back along my suddenly motionless body to find that my left foot had fortuitously snagged on a sapling. Had the sapling not been there, I would not be here. [128]
    Other than that, I don't have too much to say about this book. It was a quick read and listen, Bryson's voice (written and spoken) is great, and I really felt like I was with him as he reflected on his adopted land while he planned to return to his homeland. He has an amazing skill of writing fondly about a place while also mocking it soundly.

    And despite that passage above... England is a good country for walkers. Just another damned enticement for me to move there.


    Completed: Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

    Dear Jenny,

    Well, I think we have exhaustively examined the issue of "Great Lakes State" (plural) vs. "Great Lake State" (singular) in this post (our comments make for a funny re-read there, by the way). This book never addresses the issue so I still feel totally unresolved about it.

    For the most part, I enjoyed this read even though I have a few content problems (which you'll see in my blathering review) but I learned a lot. I have so many bookmarks/flags that a stranger on a plane remarked on the extensive marking up I had done. I'm have done my best to keep it to a few of the more interesting topics but... you know I'm not the best editor of my own writing. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready for a long one...

    Michiganian or Michigander?

    In addition to the Lake/Lakes issue, this book never addresses its own use of the term "Michiganian" to describe residents of Michigan, when I have always heard the term "Michigander" (note: spell check squawks at the former but accepts the latter). So I looked it up (of course). The Michigan website is totally wishy-washy on the subject:
    Michiganian or Michigander?
    Michiganian has a long history. It is the term used for the state's citizens in The Collections of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society since the 1870s . But people who call Michigan their home use the word they like best. There is no "official" term.
    From the wikipedia:
    A 2011 poll indicated 58% of Michigan residents preferred Michigander, compared to 12% for Michiganian, with 12% having no preference, and 11% not liking either term
    (I love that the high percentage of people having no preference or not liking either term. I can't explain exactly, but that is so Michigan to me!)

    Cobbled together from many sources: "Michiganian" dates back to the 1870s, but "Michigander" was a term of mockery from Abraham Lincoln, who was making fun of a Michigan politician running for president in 1848 -- he wanted to say this guy (Lewis Cass, then governor of Michigan) was a silly goose and therefore called him a "Michigander." HA! So even history is not terribly clear -- what were residents of Michigan called before this put-down?

    Grammatically speaking, "Michigander" doesn't have much support (other states ending in "n" are Oregon [Oregonian], Washington [Washingtonian], and Wisconsin [Wisconsinite]). But many of the people polled said they prefer "Michigander" because "it's fun to say" (which I love). On the anti-Michigander front, some people have called it "sexist" (because a gander is a male goose). (Insert eye roll here.) Growing up, I'd always heard "Michigander," so I'm sticking with that. (Plus, it's fun to say!)

    I also think it's hilarious that the residents of Michigan have taken up a nickname originally intended as a put-down as the primary name for ourselves. "Go ahead and mock us, bitches -- we'll adopt that shit like it's our own!"

    Toledo: We Won't Let it Go

    Oh, Toledo. Michigan wants you baaaad.

    Soooo... Ohio and Michigan were fighting for Toledo when they both became states, because it's situated on the mouth of the Maumee River. Although the federal government surveyed the land and stated that it should go to Michigan, Ohio became a state first and basically won the argument because states had more power than territories (there was some politics involved too, but that bores me, as I will get to in a minute). In exchange for Ohio getting Toledo, Michigan was given the western 2/3 of the Upper Peninsula (thereby ending up with all of it). (And, as a result of that, we now have your favorite term for residents -- Yoopers!)

    So Ohio got Toledo but Michigan has been fighting for it on and off ever since. And when I say "ever since" I'm not kidding -- the last time that Michigan went to the government to fight for Toledo was as recently as 1966. (Seriously!) This battle is not ancient history by any means -- there's apparently some contingency here still biding their time to make that land grab! [68]

    Another hilarious thing that came out of this battle is the nickname of "Wolverines" for Michiganders. I had never really thought much about it, but the animal itself is extremely rare in Michigan -- their habitat is much further north (Alaska, Yukon, etc). Sooo... how did Michigan come to be known as "The Wolverine State?" Well, I'll tell ya! During one fight for Toledo, the Ohioans dubbed Michiganders "Wolverines," likening them to "that 'vicious, smelly, ugly northwoods animal.'" [66] So again Michigan takes someone else's putdown and says, "Sure. We'll take that! And use it!"

    Politics? Yawn. Cars? Bring it On!

    This is really more a commentary on me as a reader than the book itself -- there were many long sections covering the political goings on in Michigan and I found myself skimming during those parts. I just don't care that much about it. But the parts about the history of the automobile? Fascinating!

    For instance, I did not know that Oldsmobiles were the first commercially successful mass-produced cars [191] and were in continuous production for 103 years (GM ended production in 2000) [193]. There are a lot of other tidbits like that in the automobile chapter and I really enjoyed all of that.

    Oddly, the assembly line is not really covered, except for this one line: "By perfecting Olds' assembly-line technique Ford managed to increase production while reducing costs." [195] I think this topic is really interesting and integral to the success of the automobile industry in Michigan, so I found it strange that it wasn't really addressed.

    Also omitted is the fact that the first paved mile of road was in Michigan, as a result of the birth (and boom) of the automotive industry here. The road system in Michigan is fairly unusual (a huge grid of 4-6 lane roads [some are darned near freeways -- with a 55 mph speed limit!] every mile on the mile, extending far out into the burbs) and I was expecting that to be covered... but no dice.

    Do You Put That on a Resume?

    I marked this passage to share with you specifically because it has to do with education and it made me chuckle. In the late 19th century:
    Each school district set it's own hiring standards and, in many instances, the only requirements were that the teacher be able to read, write, do arithmetic, and be able to defeat the strongest boy in school in a fistfight. [159]
    It's not really "funny," per se (ugh -- what a life!) but I just didn't expect it as I was reading along.

    Chronology Problems

    I don't read a lot of non-fiction, so maybe this just happens a lot in history books, but it felt so many times like I would be cruising along reading about stuff happening, and then the authors would refer to something that pre-dated the story that was just going on.

    For instance, in that chapter about education, they talk about violence in the classrooms during the "1870s and 1880s" but the very next paragraph says, "Despite their lack of professional competence, in 1852 Michigan teachers formed a union." [160] I feel like.... waaaait a minute. Shouldn't that have come before talking about stuff that happened in the 1870s and 1880s? So that was disconcerting.

    Updates Needed

    This book was originally published in 1981, then periodically re-published through 2008. But, as far as I can tell, absolutely none of the sections marked "For Further Reading" have been updated since the original publication in 1981. So, you know... want to read more about Henry Ford? Check out this book from the 1950s! I realize that history is history, so much of that is still accurate but I also know that history books are being written and published (and updated) all of the time and the bibliographies in this book could also stand to be updated.

    Likewise, the last 30 years are basically crammed into the last 25 pages of the book, in haphazardly thrown together unrelated snippets. Over the course of seven pages (297-304), we cover the following topics, in the following order:

    • The opening of the Women's Hall of Fame in 1987 (one paragraph)
    • The 1990 Election (one page)
    • Michigan's horrific economic downturn (two pages)
    • Recent progress made solving the mystery of the Edmund Fitzgerald (one page)
    • Dr. Kevorkian (one page)
    • The 1994 Election (two pages)
    Um... maybe lump the political stuff together? And the people stuff? And... spend waaaaaay more time on the economic situation because that's super important in Michigan these days? It's like they just started to slap some tweets on the end of this book in the order that things happened, which is a bummer.

    In Conclusion... I am Concluding

    I actually had a ton more interesting facts, figures, and thoughts to share, but this post has gone on too long already and I have two more to write before this year is over. The reality is that this stuff is probably only super interesting to Michiganders. All of the other midwesterners who come here to vacation really only care about the sunsets on Lake Michigan. Heh.

    On to the final two!


    Tuesday, December 24, 2013

    Completed: The End


    Woo hoo! I'm finished with a cool 7 days left in 2013! Now on the the super-fun task of picking out next year's 14 books.

    I am pleased to say that The End was a lot better than it seemed to be in that first hundred pages, in fact, for non-fiction, it was fast paced and interesting once I got into the rhythm of it.

    The premise of The End is an exploration of why the Nazis held out without surrendering for the last ten months of the war, roughly dating from an assassination attempt on Hitler in the summer of 1944. At first, I was annoyed that the book was so overwhelmingly military in its bent. But as the book went on, there were more chapters about the state of mind of not only the Nazi high command, but also of German citizens, soldiers, and regional directors.

    I've been thinking a lot about my initial disappointment, and I think it's a function of the type of historical reading I tend to do. Because I feel so woefully uneducated in all things historical, I tend to gravitate to big, survey-like texts. I like the "single volume history of X event" because I like getting the big picture. This book is really a very specific look at the state of Germany, and for a very short time. It's not my typical historical read, and that might have been why I was initially disappointed. But once I got into the swing of it, I ended up appreciating it. I don't want to say "enjoy" because of the subject matter, but it was a good read.

    I won't go into too many details, because it's honestly all overwhelming. But I'll leave you with my three major take-aways.

    1) Hitler, man. He was completely, totally, and categorically opposed to surrender. And he's not *just* the dictator of Nazi Germany. He's the head of state, the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces, and the head of the Party. This dude had it *all* locked down. No one could make any moves against him. And he just would lose his mind if anyone suggested they should capitulate. At some point, he started planning the destruction of basically everything left in Germany, which would have eventually killed millions of his own citizens---no food, no electricity, no fresh water, etc. He basically didn't care even about his own people. As far as he was concerned, the German people didn't deserve him, they'd let him down, and therefore, he didn't care to do anything to possibly save them. What a douchebag.

    As an aside, the book also spends some time at the end talking about Hitler's replacement. His name was Karl Donitz, and he held power from Hitler's suicide on April 30, 1945 - May 15, 1945, when the Allies relieved him of command. I mention this only because it seems like a total Jeopardy question. I mean, have you ever thought for a second before about the fact that someone replaced Hitler? Yeah, me neither.

    2) I always knew there was a Western front an Eastern front, but this book describes just how different those fronts were. On the Western front, you have the advancing American and British troops. For the most part, everyday Germans on that side had nothing to fear from those troops. They came to your town, fought, and took over. The most harrowing part of life of the Western front was the incessant air raids by American and British bombers. They bombed the fuck out of Germany, and people lived in fear of American bombers, but those bombers were still far better than what was going on in the Eastern front.

    The Eastern Front was basically hell on Earth. You may remember from my review of Bloodlands that the Germans invaded Russia and planned to basically empty it out by killing everyone, and then moving Germans in. Well, the Red Army was pushing back into Germany, and there was hell to pay. The Red Army looted, raped, and pillaged its way through Eastern Germany. The Red Army, from commanders to infantry, was determined to extract vengeance on the Germans for their invasion of Russia. The book makes the point, and I remember reading about this in Bloodlands, too, that these dirt poor Red Army soldiers were astounded at the wealth of Germany, and were totally pissed. Even the poorest German farmers enjoyed a standard of living so much higher than that of your average Russian peasant.

    The Germans on the Eastern front were terrified of the approaching Red Army. The Nazi leadership knew they had to surrender unconditionally, meaning give it up on both the Western and Eastern fronts, and there was just no way that was going to happen. NO ONE wanted to just give up and give in to the Soviets; they knew they would pay a terrible price.

    3) The German people were assholes, too. The supported Hitler, turned a blind eye to what their country was up to, and then boo-hooed about how they were victimized by the Red Army at the end. The whole country was just filled to the brim with crazy ideas. For example, much of the Nazi party  were convinced that they could *flip* the Americans to their side, and that the Americans and Germans would fight off the Red Army together, thereby preserving the German state. I mean, what?

    It is *tremendously* difficult to read about the mindset of the Germans, whether they are about regular German people or soldiers. Even when reading the Red Army laying waste to villages, it's hard not to feel like the Germans deserved it. The German people started what amounts to a massive land grab, and 6 years later, 80 million people are dead. This is a book that challenged my sense of empathy. It was just hard for me to feel sorry for any Germans. I can't say I'm proud of that feeling, but that's how I felt.

    And I guess that's the biggest take-away of all. Read as a cautionary tale about the dangers of Nationalism and blind support for your government, this books is harrowing in every single possible way.

    And with that, I'm calling it a wrap on 2013's TBR list!

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Rounding the Corner on 2013


    1) A few things in my next to last post of the year. (I'm actually making good progress on The End and will finish it in a few days! It got better, luckily, so I'm going to be happy to finish the last TBR book of the year!) We should really finish up this year. So far only 5 people have finished, so our odds for winning might be pretty good (even though we won last year!). I know you've read a ton this year, but are you going to make it through your TBR books?

    2) have you seen this? The NPR Book Concierge! It seems dangerous...

    3) are we TBRing in 2014? I hope so! I'm already starting to think about which books I might choose, which is always a super fun task.


    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Completed: Little, Big

    Dear Jenny,

    I finished this book a few weeks ago and I don't really know what to say about it. It was strange, which can be okay, but just kind of missed the mark for me this time. I thought a bit of distance would give me some clarity, but what was already a sort of murky reading has become murkier with time.

    Here is the synopsis of this book from Wikipedia (because I can't really come up with one myself):
    Little, Big is the epic story of the Drinkwater family and their relationship with the mostly obscured world of Fairy. It is set in and around their eccentric country house, called Edgewood, somewhere north of "the City" (implied to be New York). The story is dreamlike, quiet, and meandering, spanning a hundred years of the intertwined family trees of the Drinkwaters and their relations—from the turn of the twentieth century to a sparsely-described dystopian future America ruled by a sinister despot. The magical elements are subtle rather than overt, with only occasional glimpses of the fairies themselves, although their presence is felt throughout.
    I guess that covers it. Oddly enough, this description really does help me put some of my thoughts into words. It's the "mostly obscured world" and the "subtle rather than overt" parts of this book that really turned me off. I found myself constantly re-reading passages to figure out what the hell just happened which, for me, is a tiring way to read a book.

    The house (Edgewood) is awesome and some of the characters are interesting and genuinely likable, but the inscrutable aspect was a slog. And even when I *thought* I was figuring stuff out, I'm still not 100% sure that I did, which isn't very satisfying. I actually wrote pretty lengthy plot summary notes for myself after every section of this book, which is something I never do. For these TBR books, I use post-its for stuff I want to tell you later and some pencil markings, but 5 pages of notes? Um, no. And even reading them over right now, I feel like, "Waaait... is that what happened?"

    But here is one of the "notes" that I took in the book -- it cracks me up every time I see it:

    Curious about the passage referred to there? Here it is:
    The athenor of the alchemists, for instance, the Philosopher's Egg within which the transformation from base to gold took place -- was it not a microcosm, a small world? When the black-books said that the Work was to be begun in the sign of Aquarius and completed in Scorpio, they meant not those signs as they occurred in the heavens, but as they occured in the universe of the world-shaped, world-containing Egg itself. The Work was not other than Genesis; the Red Man and the White Lady, when they appeared, microscopic in the Egg, were the soul of the Philosopher himself, as an object of the Philosopher's thought, itself a product of his soul, and so on, regressus ad infinitum, and in both directions too. [250]

    That's exhausting, right? Other than dialog scenes (which were so refreshing!) this was the entire book.

    Also... there was one character who took photos of his sisters in the woods naked (And... kissing each other? Not sure. Glossed over it.), a weirdly veiled probable rape of a sleeping teenage girl by her cousin aaaaand... some guy might have had sex with his own estranged daughter (he suspected she might be his daughter, and he didn't care. She might have known too. Unclear.).  These were areas that I actually didn't look too carefully at to figure out what the hell was going on, as I'm sure you can understand. So that was all creepyville.

    Finally, I think the book was building to some sort of epic battle and, for the life of me, I cannot remember how it ended, although I do remember having a more interested feeling as we headed toward the finish, like, "What's going to happen next?!" Buuut... I guess that didn't pay off.

    So yeah. Little, Big. Not for me.


    PS -- In related news...  2014 is going to be my year for abandoning books. You read it here first: I vow to give up on books that don't interest me. The entire time I was reading this book, Bill kept saying, "Is that the book you should have stopped reading weeks ago?" Yes. Yes it was. Onwards!