Thursday, April 28, 2016

100 books in 2016 The Best So Far

A few years ago I joined Good Reads and this year I decided to do a reading challenge, a 100 books in 2016.  

I'm at about 35 books now and we are 1/3 of the way through the year (which is terrifying where does the time go) so I think I'll probably make a 100.

I always love Rae at Say It Ain't So book reviews so here in no particular order, are my  favorite books so far this year.

1) The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith, writing as Claire Morgan-

I read Highsmith's first Ripley novel years ago and I really enjoyed it so when I heard about this book and the movie based on it I really wanted to read it.  This  book, like all of Highsmith's writing, is excellent.  Its full of mid century detail and you feel totally transported to the 1950s.  Highsmith is known for her crime fiction and this  is a love story, so its very different from the majority of work.  However, Highsmith was an astute observer of the minutiae of human behavior and that is on ample display here.   Most of the story takes place in the head of Therese, the younger of the two lovers, and much of Carol, the older women's behavior, is a bit mysterious, because Carol remains a mystery to Therese.  I think thats why the book is so much better then the movie.  
It it isn't really an action filled  cinematic story.   So while I didn't really like the movie I did love the book.  It also has a fairly happy ending, unusual for a Highsmith story and somewhat bittersweet since Highsmith herself was unlucky in love.   

2) The Blunderer-Patricia Highsmith.

After reading The Price of Salt I really wanted to read more Highsmith books and The Blunderer was the first I tried.  I really loved it.  It has the same pitch perfect mid century atmosphere, particularly the cocktail party scenes, but it's a crime story which is more to my taste then a love story.   The basic plot follows two very different men who have murdered their wives. One is cool, calm and collected, and the other is a blunderer.  It's a classic Hitchcockian story and I kept wondering why it hasn't ever been made into a film, and then I found out it is being made into one. Too bad Hitchcock isn't around.

3) The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith-Patricia Highsmith

I love short stories and these are tops.  Some are very dark and disturbing and some are light funny.  My favorites where the ones about animals, particularly a dog who gets revenge on an unworthy owner.  You can tell Highsmith was an animal lover.

4) 20th Century Ghosts-Joe Hill

Two things I love short stories and horror stories.  All of these are great and spooky.  Hill reminds me of his dad Stephen King during his 1980s salad days when he was writing top quality horror.   I also love that this book features a vintage movie house.  It reminded me of the landmark Loewes in Jersey City which I love.

This is such an interesting non fiction story.  It's about Paul Du Chaillu an early naturalist and hunter, early naturalists where all hunters, who was one of the first people to study, sadly largely through hunting the gorilla.  The book goes into fascinating detail about the whole evolution debate that was raging at the time and the role the Gorilla played in it, with many people seeing the Gorilla as the missing link.  Racism played a major role in early thoughts on evolution and the book explores that too.  Chaillu was part African and had to keep it completely secret.  I was also fascinated by the small section of the book that focused on  P.T. Barnum and his efforts to turn the evolution debate into a side show. 

6) I Am Spock-Leonard Nimoy

I waited for this book to come into the library for a full year, and it was totally worth it.  Of course I adore Spock and Nimoy and all things Star Trek, but this is also a really well written book.   I found Nimoy's life story very interesting, but I really loved reading about how he developed the character of Spock and I was impressed with how devoted to his fictional alter ego.  He often put his job on the line to defend the character's dignity, but he never comes off as obnoxious or egotistical.  He also seems to really appreciate and care for his fans. I also thought Nimoy was a wonderful person and this book confirmed it for me.

7) The Monstrumologist Book 1 by Rick Yancey

I think this is my favorite of the book so far this year.  A horror story about a young boy whose an apprentice to a monster hunter, it is very Harry Potter meets HP Lovecraft I absolutely loved it.  This is a young adult book but its plenty scary and page turney and it really reminds me of Lovecraft,  my favorite horror writer.   I can't recommend it highly enough.  

8) Spock, Messiah! Theodore R. Cogswell

I have to be honest this is not a great book, but I really enjoyed reading it.  The reason is because I've read plenty of Star Trek books and this more then any of the others reminds me of the original series hokey first season, and the so bad its good Spock's Brain episode.    It is ridiculously sexist in a classic Star Trek way.  The basic plot involves a female scientist who is on the Enterprise studying an early culture through some sort of mind swap technique.  She's madly in love with Spock and fixes things so Spock and her take on the bodies of super emotional villagers.  Spock goes nuts and thinks he's God and action ensues.   Kitschy and fun.

9) Federation by Judith Reeves Stevens

This is a really good, well written Star Trek novel.   It goes into the early years of the Federation and plenty of stuff alluded too, but never mentioned, in the series and films, so its almost a stand alone novel.  I love how it gets into the philosophy behind the series.   If you love Star Trek you'll love this.  After Spock's World and The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, its the best Trek novel I've read.

10) The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist Book 2) Rick Yancey

As good as the first one!  There is so much in this book the wild west, victorian cities, monsters, true love, etc.  Its amazing how Yancey packs so much into one story.    I love the mystery part of this one it reminded me a little of Sherlock Holmes.  

11) Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man  William Shatner

I have heard plenty of criticism of this book, mostly focused on Shatner and his ego, but I really enjoyed it.  I love William Shatner and I think he's very funny and its on display here.   I had already heard plenty of the stories in the book since I had read I Am Spock and also Shatner's autobiography Up 'Till Now, but I still really enjoyed it.  Reading its obvious that Shatner healed Nimoy in high esteem and that were real friends.  If your a Star Trek fan you should really read this.

12) Mr. Mercedes: Bill Hodges Book 1-Stephen King

This is far from my favorite King book, that would be The Eyes of The Dragon.  It is also not a horror novel, its a crime thriller, but  I still really enjoyed it.  It's set during the recent economic turmoil and is very focused on the current concerns about mass shootings and such.  Parts of it seemed to pat and tv-ish and I never warmed to the main character, the villain is more full developed.  Still no one does a page turner better then Stephen King and I read this in three days.  I'm also very excited because King is coming to the Landmark Loewes theatre in Jersey City and June and I'm going to be seeing him there.  He'll be reading from the final book in the Bill Hodges trilogy and I'll get a signed copy. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Pink Hair and Pigs

For the past few months I've been thinking pink

Pink hair.  Inspired in part by this picture of Bridgette Bardot sporting a rosey blonde bob

 and in part by my new flamingo vans and purse

I finally got up the courage to go pink this weekend I  had my hair stylist Sharon at Artistic Hair in jersey city, who is super nice (she has me in the gallery on her website), lighten my blonde and dye the front pink.  I really love it, its so fun and springy!

 Its very close to the rosey Bardot color I wanted

Sadly it will wash out quickly so I have to figure out how to maintain it myself and I've ordered some manic panic cotton candy pink dye so I can try to do it myelf.   

In addition to the fun of pink hair we had a very nice weekend.  Jersey City, or at least the down town area if not our neighborhood, is getting very trendy.  Every time I walk there I see new restaurants and shops.  On Saturday we had brunch at Talde, its been in town around year so not really new,

they have really Asian fusion food and we tried Reuben spring rolls, sausage, egg and cheese fried rice and corn pancakes, and I had a delicious, and strong, Bloody Mary.  In retrospect the sausage, egg, and cheese fried rice may gave been a mistake because on the way out of our favorite book store Word we saw a pot bellied pig out to brunch with his people.

He was so cute, and he seemed to be getting along well with this passing dog.  The owner let me feed him some cheerios.    I'm not sure Jersey City is zoned for pigs but I sure wish this guy and his pig luck I've heard horror stories about supposedly mini-pigs growing to massive sizes.   Sadly this leads to many getting abandoned in rescues, but this guy did seem appropriately smitten with his pet.

On Sunday we tried another new burger restaurant and brought Fry and Tuvok along.  I forgot to take a picture of our burgers but they were very good, and Fry and Tuvok got some too of course and an ice cream, I forgot to get a picture of that too.


 We hope you all had great weekend.

 PS-We could use some juju for Weasley he is going  to the vet for a dental and extractions on Thursday.  He is only four but his teeth have a lot of plaque.  The anesthesia makes me very nervous but I know he needs the procedure.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Vintage Outfit Post-1930s Lounging Pajamas

If there was a decade that elevated lounging to an art form, it was the 1930s.


Beautiful robes and hostess pajamas meant that relaxing in the comfort of your own home could be a supremely stylish endeavor.


Hollywood stars such as Norma Shearer and Ginger Rogers exemplified the look  in films such as The Divorcee, Top Hat and The Astaire and Rogers series.   Depression era audiences longing for opulence must have appreciated the glamour, even if they couldn't have it for themselves.  

Today such glamorous home wear is a thing of the past, replaced by yoga pants and sweats.   While a  Ginger Rogers style fluffy night gown or Norma Shearer's sequined robe might not be exactly practical, I can't help but have a certain fondness for the look.  That's why I was so excited to see Time Machine Vintage offering a pair of 1930s Style Oriental Lounging Pajamas for an excellent price on facebook.   Kim used to sell her wares on Etsy but realized it would be more economical for herself and her buyers to sell on facebook.  She now offers her wares through the Facebook group 1920s 30s and 40s Market Place which is wear I found these dreamy pajamas.   

They are supremely comfortable particularly when unbelted

and the asian style floral print is classic 1930s.

The best thing ever to wear at home while watching movies with dogs 

A 1930s lounging pajama movie view-a-thon 

Bringing up Baby 1938
The Gay Divorcee 1934
Top Hat 1935
Red Headed Women 1932
The Divorcee 1930 

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Friday Photo Shoot, Sci-Fi Saturday Style, -Canine Star Trek Costumes

Mom wrote her review of the wonderful Star Trek Costumes-Fifty Years of Fashion From the Final Frontier in this post, but we also did a fun photo shoot with the book and our own Star Trek Costumes courtesy of our friend Deb from pug possessed and Melissa from pug notes.  

Bob as Captain James T. Kirk

Mr. Tuvok, Phillip J. Fry, Ping, and Weasley as Star Trek: The Next Generation crew members.

Phillip J. Fry as acting Ensign Wesley Crusher

Weasley, Ping and Mr. Tuvok as Star Trek: The Original series crew members Lt. Uhura, Captain James T. Kirk, and Commander Spock.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Around Town-Cherry Blossoms in Newark's Branch Brook Park

This Sunday we took a little trip to a park thats a short drive from our home.  Branch Brook park in Newark, New Jersey is a large urban park that is known for  its Cherry Blossoms.  I had never been their before but I love Cherry Blossoms and we usually visit the Brooklyn Botanical garden for the Cherry Blossom festival each spring.  However, the botanical garden is farther from our home, charges to get in, and worst of all, does not allow dogs.  So this year we decided to go to Branch Brook  instead.  Sadly the weird weather, first warm, then cold, meant that the cherry trees where not in peak bloom.  The park was still packed to the gills though and we weren't even able to see the main expanse of cherry trees because I felt it was just too crowded for the dogs.  We had brought Weasley, Fry, and Tuvok, feeling it be too far and too crowded for Bob and Ping.  Even though it was crowded and the blooms weren't in full splendor, it was still a very nice day and a lovely park.  Im sure we will return next year, hopefully on a less busy day.

Note: We also discovered that our dogs HATE motorcycles.  We passed a large group of motorcyclers and they went absolutely bonkers.   We have passed one or two cycles before and they barked, but this time was bad.  They are never perfect in the car but I've also never seen them get this crazy.  Do your dogs hate motorcycles?

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