Virginia S. - Reviews

1 to 18 of 18
The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder
The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder
Author: Mark Crispin Miller
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 5/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


Barbara Ehrenreich calls this: "simply the finest, most comprehensive, and masterfully annotated collection of Bushisms to date: a clear reminder to never "misunderestimate" the ignorance, intellectual lazAiness, and sheer meanness of our first unelected president."

Studs Terkel says: "This is a work of outrage. Never has the native intelligeence of the 'ordinary' American been so assaulted as it's been by the recent presidential 'election,' and Mark Crispin has sounded the tocsin of revolt. Unless we are suffering from a national Alzheimer's disease, this book will give us heart and voice, as well as a laugh or two along the way."

Classic shrub. 'Nuff said.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 105
Review Date: 7/26/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I am a former teacher and now volunteer in my church as librarian. This is one of my favorite books. I first heard it as an audio book and the narrator was excellent. Now I read the book and the book has diagrams and mathematical formulas that the audio book does not, and they enhance the text. The voice of the main character, Christopher, through whom the story is told, is so very convincing and unique, primarily because the author worked with autistic children so he knows their problems and ways of addressing the chaos they see in the world. This book helps the reader enter the world of autism, and understand how the world appears to an autistic person -- loud, stressful, chaotic, terrifying, confusing, and just plain weird. This is a good book for teachers, parents, friends, and peers of autistic people. I will read this book again and again because it is so unique and unusual -- a door to the world of someone else. It's a keeper.


Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Author: David Sedaris
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 515
Review Date: 5/3/2011


David Sedaris cracks me up. Very funny short stories about his family life, travels, and being a writer. They are not without their more serious lessons, however. I often sit back and contemplate what the Sedaris family was like with David and Amy as siblings, among the others. What did their parents do to create such creative, eccentric, endearing children? They ought to bottle it as a anti-boredom elixir. Thank you, David, for being YOU.


The End of Summer
The End of Summer
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 7/26/2008
Helpful Score: 3


An early effort of Pilcher's, one of my favorite authors. Her later novel Wild Mountain Thyme is a better, fuller reworking of this early effort. The older man in this story, lawyer David Stewart, is similar to the high-powered older man in WMT; the Sinclair character here is like Oliver Dobbs in WMT, and so on. Many of her female characters are younger and end up with older men, however, in her more recent book, Winter Solstice, her female character is an older woman, probably because Pilcher was, by then, older herself. Her characters in WMT are more fully developed than in this book, the scenery better imagined, the house and basic plot are all more complex, especially the character of Roddy whose house burns down in WMT. Even so, I am glad I swapped this book because after reading it, I can easily see how Pilcher's talents grew with her writing. I wish she were still writing more stories -- I enjoy them so and have kept copies of all of them because I read them over again from time to time.


The Feynman Lectures on Physics: The Complete Audio Collection: Volume 5
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Fabulous lectures by a genius physicist who could make physics interesting even for non-science majors. This is a man who worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, taught at Cal Tech, and figured out that the o-rings failed on the Challenger disaster hearing committee by popping a rubber o-ring sample into his glass of ice water (it broke when bent). Feynman was a funny, brilliant man and these tapes are a testament to his intelligence and humanity.


How to Buy a Home While You Can Still Afford to
How to Buy a Home While You Can Still Afford to
Author: Michael C. Murphy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Revised and expanded in 1989. This book is about home-buying, but not the "clean up, paint, and dress up the house." This is about the financial side of home-buying, which has not changed even if the market has. It tells you how to get the best mortgage and locating financing; the advantes of using a shorter-term loan, saving money at closing, and hundreds of other tips and techniques. Hey, even my husband, the economist, read this one to prepare us for the recent sale of our home and purchase of a new home.


Ideas for Great Window Treatments (Sunset Home Improvement)
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Not as good as I had hoped. Because it was written in 1992, the colors and fabrics are now dated, and some of the treatment ideas are dated as well; for example, the designers wrapped the drapery rods in fabric. That idea is passe. But the basic types of draperies such as pinch pleats and roman shades are still shown clearly with photos and drawings, and can give readers help with the basics. Just don't look to this book to guide you with recent fabrics, or design or color trends. You won't find them here.


Invincible Louisa
Invincible Louisa
Author: Cornelia Meigs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Excellent historical novel about the life of Louisa May Alcott for late elementary to middle school readers or adults who want a quick, easy refresher. I remember reading this book as a child. Good spring board to her written works and great for those interested in Alcott's life and the Concord circle of writers she knew intimately -- her father, Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne. Before any American child visits her home, a museum in Concord, MA, they should read this and Little Women so they have a biographical framework for the visit. It is important that every child be conversant with Louisa May Alcott and her works.


Miss Julia Takes Over (Miss Julia, Bk 2)
Miss Julia Takes Over (Miss Julia, Bk 2)
Author: Ann B. Ross
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 149
Review Date: 5/3/2011


I love Miss Julia books. She is such an upright southern lady who goes out of her way to be kind to and protect her friends and "family" even if they are her nasty deceased husband's mistress, Hazel Marie, and Hazel's son little Lloyd, for whom Miss Julia develops a grandmotherly fondness. Good escapist women's fiction, not quite as eccentric and unusual as Fannie Flagg's books, but a close second. Not great literature, but better than bodice-rippers which fail to hold my interest because they are all the same and hold no surprises.


Miss Julia's School of Beauty (Miss Julia, Bk 6)
Miss Julia's School of Beauty (Miss Julia, Bk 6)
Author: Ann B. Ross
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 5/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I love Miss Julia books. In this one, when Hazel Marie agrees to hold a beauty pageant to aid the local sheriff's department, Miss Julia, who detests beauty pageants, even gets into it when a young girl with little beauty but a sterling talent, needs Miss Julia's help and confidence to enter and do well.


Our Dumb Century (Audio Cassette)
Our Dumb Century (Audio Cassette)
Author: The Onion
Book Type: Audio Cassette
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Twentieth-century history turned on its head, laugh out loud funny. This humor will appeal to bright teens, college students or anyone with a funny bone who knows what REALLY happened in the 20th century. Now you can look back and see why it really was a DUMB century!! From the funny writers of The Onion, America's satirical news source.


The Poisonwood Bible
The Poisonwood Bible
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 428
Review Date: 5/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


Kingsolver is undoubtedly a fine writer -- her prose is engrossing and often poetic in its beauty. I was just not that crazy about the plot -- it seemed to go on and on and was just not that interesting. The last 100 pages lost my interest and I just kept reading to finish the darn thing. I found the father missionary to be so unfeeling and stupid as to be unbelieveable as a character. I guess some men are that stupid, unrealistic, and uncaring about the safety of their families, and some mothers that cowed, but this man beggared belief, and I got fed up with the mother and four daughters for being so cowed, so willing to put up with his dream of converting those who did not wish to hear his message much less doused in a croc-infested river to be baptized. I enjoyed Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer more. Give it a go and see if you like it more than I did.


Pope Joan
Pope Joan
Author: Donna Cross
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 40
Review Date: 5/3/2011


I enjoyed this book -- very evocative of the medieval era, with fully realized characters and believeable plot lines. The possibility that there once WAS a female pope is tantalizing. Very good historical fiction.


The Proud Tower
The Proud Tower
Author: Barbara W. Tuchman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 8/31/2009


This book is a scholarly historical look at the elements leading up to WW1. This is a historical classic. Tuchman has an outstanding reputation as a stellar historian. Chapters include English patricians, anarchists in European countries and America, American politics from 1890-1902, The Dreyfus affair and how it split France, the formation of the Hague, rising German militarism under Kaiser Wilhelm, England's transfer of power from 1902-1911, and the socialists of western Europe and America.

For anyone interested in the interplay of history, politics, anarchist and socialist elements in western Europe, the United States and Russia, this is a brilliant book.

Two personal notes: on my grandfather-in-law's ship manifest bringing him from Ukraine in 1906 to Ellis Island, there was a question on the manifest, "are you an anarchist?" We laugh over that, wondering who would be dumb or brazen enough to reply with a "yes" even if they were one.

Second: After reading in this book about Charles William Eliot, president of Harvard University, I mentioned to my son, a Harvard grad, that I had read about Eliot and recalled that there is an Eliot House at Harvard named after Eliot. He remarked, "not only is there an Eliot House, but in the quad (formerly Radcliffe quad, now part of Harvard, housing several Harvard residential "houses,") there is a Tuchman wing" named after this author, Barbara Tuchman. Interesting!


The Romanovs: The Final Chapter
The Romanovs: The Final Chapter
Author: Robert K. Massie
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 8/14/2008
Helpful Score: 7


The writer of Nicholas and Alexandra looks at the death of the Romanov family in Ekaterinburg, Russia. The book begins with a description of their execution, and how the bodies were disposed of. Then it describes how the remains were rediscovered, disinterred, and how modern-day DNA methods were used to identify them.

The second section of the book discusses Romanov pretenders, in particular, Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia. DNA again was used to prove conclusively that she was not Anastasia, but a Polish peasant whose DNA had a 100% match with relative, a Polish farmer.

The third section of the book describes the remaining Romanovs who are scattered throughout the world, and which ones would be eligible if a monarchy was ever again to be instituted.

The last chapter is an epilog, taking us back to the final day of the Romanov family, a diagram of the Ipatiev House where they were kept under guard for months in Ekaterinburg, and an hour-by-hour description of their last day.

This book has a number of excellent photos of the royal family; the photos of the grand duchesses are particularly beautiful and poignant. This book is a good look at the craziness surrounding the Russian Revolution and how many out-of-control revolutionaries made unethical decisions about life and death pretty much on their own or only with regional approval. The city of Ekaterinburg has been trying to atone ever since. Boris Yeltsin was a native of Ekaterinburg.


Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
Rumpole and the Reign of Terror
Author: John Mortimer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 5/3/2011


Very droll, English humor. Good escapist reading.


St. Petersburg : The Hidden Interiors
St. Petersburg : The Hidden Interiors
Author: Katya Galitzine
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/26/2010
Helpful Score: 1


This full color book by a descendant of the wealthy Galitzine family raised in England and now residing in St. Petersburg, is full of excellent photos of former palaces and mansions of tsarist Russian royalty and nobles. One can see whether these buildings have been preserved as museums or now house universities, libraries, institutions, or government offices, and to a great extent, the state they are in.

A map of St. Petersburg at the beginning of the book shows the locations of all the buildings discussed, and includes a short list of those farther afield than the ones on the map.

It was particularly interesting to see the palaces of the Yusupovs, Galitzines, and so on. It adds to my knowledge of these buildings and the sort of lives pre-Revolutionary nobles and royals lived. It was also interesting to see the furniture and how the rooms were decorated, especially those of Lenin and other revolutionaries.

An excellent book of you are interested in Russian living from pre-revolutionary times.


The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck
Author: Beatrix Potter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/31/2009


The book I received is NOT a Frederick Warne edition as the write-up with it says. It says it is by Beatrix Potter but I received a book with illustrations not by her, but by Allen Atkinson and it says so right on the front cover. Please beware. If you want the real Tale of Jemima Puddleduck with text AND illustrations by Beatrix Potter, demand the real thing, request that the sender make sure the illustrations also are by Potter and that it is a Frederick Warne edition, not this cheapo knock-off. I received a Bantam book "Tale of Jemima Puddle-duck," copyright 1984, printed in Spain. Fake Beatrix Potter. I LOVE Beatrix Potter but I always expect and desire both her original text AND illustrations.


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