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The Handy Astronomy Answer Book - Charles Liu

Wow...for a few minutes I felt like I almost almost understood how gravity works. Plus black holes.  The author does an effective job breaking the science down for the layman.  Paired quite nicely with Arthur Clarke's 2001, another recent read.

Clementine - Marla Frazee, Sara Pennypacker

My daughter's really loving this for recent bedtime reading. I think other kids who love Junie B or Ivy & Bean would enjoy these as well.

Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets

Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 1: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets - Dav Pilkey Hoo boy.

Happy Birthday, Josefina!: A Springtime Story

Happy Birthday, Josefina!: A Springtime Story - Valerie Tripp, Jean-Paul Tibbles, Susan McAliley Followed by a descent into the alluring whirlpool that is our local American Girl store.

Ivy and Bean: Bound to be Bad

Ivy and Bean: Bound to be Bad - Annie Barrows, Sophie Blackall Have really enjoyed the Ivy and Bean series so far and this is my favorite. Actually ended up reading it twice to myself in addition to reading it to my daughter because the story is so clever and the characterizations so delightful. HIGHLY recommend. A charmer.

A Place of Greater Safety

A Place of Greater Safety - Hilary Mantel Really excellent so far.

Update: And excellent through to the finish!

The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America

The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America - David A. Stockman 700+ pages...somehow I doubt strongly that I will have time for the whole thing. But so far I really am enjoying how Stockman is willing to toss well-deserved grenades in both political directions--right and left--and his very entertaining way with invective, especially toward the Federal Reserve. Suits my (sour) political mood these days.

The chapter and subheading titles have me salivating: "Days of Crony Capitalist Plunder", "The Fed's Horrid Bailout of LTCM", "Goldman and Morgan Stanley: The Last Two Predators Standing", "Willard M. Romney and the Truman Show of Bubble Finance", "The Obama Money Drop: Keynesian Folly", "The Greenspan Axion: How the Fed Gifts the 1 Percent", "Sundown in America: The State-Wreck Ahead." Looks like only Eisenhower and Ford are going to come out untarred and unfeathered from this one.

I probably need to create a new Goodreads shelf: Financial Apocalypse

Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green - David Mitchell Awesome Mitchell. As usual.

Love the reader for the audio edition.

The Innocence of Father Brown

The Innocence of Father Brown - G.K. Chesterton Okay, have actually (hate the phrase, but...) laughed out loud already and only a short way in. Marvelous way with a phrase, but then he's known for that in his theological writings so I guess it carries over nicely to his fiction.

How can you not enjoy this sort of character description:
"The little priest was so much the essence of those Eastern flats; he had a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling; he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had several brown paper parcels, which he was quite incapable of collecting. The Eucharistic Congress had doubtless sucked out of their local stagnation many such creatures, blind and helpless, like moles disinterred."

Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II's Sexual Revolution

Theology of the Body for Beginners: A Basic Introduction to Pope John Paul II's Sexual Revolution - Christopher West "In this way, sexual love becomes an icon or earthly image in some sense of the inner life of the Trinity...In addition to imaging the Trinity, sexual love is also meant to image the union of God with humanity. . . God endowed our bodies as male and female with the sacramental ability to convey this exchange between Christ and the Church . . . When all the confusions are cleared and the distortions are untwisted, the deepest meaning of human sexuality--of our creation as male and female and our call to communion--is 'eucharist.'"

It's a long haul from Dr. Ruth to John Paul II. Fascinating perspective and West breaks down JPII's thoughts simply enough for non-theologians to follow.

Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves

Hungry: A Young Model's Story of Appetite, Ambition and the Ultimate Embrace of Curves - Crystal Renn Brought back fond memories of couch potato evenings slouched in front of America's Next Top Model.

Favorite line is a quote from another model, Coco Rocha, about the advice she got from industry people: "The look this year is anorexia. We don't want you to be anorexic, but that's what we want you to look like."

Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy (Junie B. Jones, No. 12)

Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy (Junie B. Jones, No. 12) - Barbara Park Charlotte's favorite Junie B. so far. Lots of snorts and giggling.

When Money Dies: The Nightmare Of The Weimar Hyper Inflation

When Money Dies: The Nightmare Of The Weimar Hyper Inflation - Adam Fergusson Just arriving at 1923, aka "the year of the wheelbarrow." Pretty fascinating so far. I had no idea that Austria and Hungary were also such basketcases after WWI. As always, with my paltry education in economics, some of the explanations go over my head. But overall Fergusson does a good job simplifying things for the layman and only includes as much political information as is necessary to understand the economic developments. Also, the British diplomats of the time were quick with a witty jab and I really enjoy the quotes from their reports.

Different situation than we are in, obviously, what with world war and reparations and such, but there are moments when you can glimpse parallels.

Eg. I didn't realize that Germany largely funded WWI through debt and the printing of money, rather than through taxation. Hellooo, Iraq War!

Eg. Resistance to increased taxation and to the abolition of assorted subsidies without a corresponding insistence on decreased government services and responsibilities. ("Tax collection was entirely ineffective, and all State enterprises ran at a huge loss.")

Eg. An ever growing bureaucracy. ("Vienna was found to contain more State employees as capital of a Republic of six-and-a-half million persons than as the capital of a monarchy of 50 million.")

Eg. No expenditure is too frivolous. For instance, Bavaria's leadership, in the face of economic catastrophe, proceeded to double the annual subsidy for encouraging the pursuit of gymnastics. (I just read an article about a poet/PhD student at the Univ. of Denver (and KCK native) who was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from the NEA which she plans to use to travel and write more poems. This one financial outlay, $25,000, will consume all of the federal income tax that was extracted from our household's paychecks last year--plus a few thousand more from some other law-abiding, tax-compliant sucker. Sure wish I had that money so I could pay for some dental work. Or, heck, so that maybe my family and I could do a little traveling ourselves rather than support someone else's trips. How is this NOT state-sanctioned, state-conducted theft?)

Oh, sorry...brief tirade there. It happens to me a lot these days.

Also there's an interesting cameo by Hemingway, making a day trip with his (first) wife from France to Germany and how amazingly cheap their day of merry-making was.

Hard to fathom what it would be like to run your household budget when "an increase of wages granted at the end of one week would not meet the rise in prices by the following Tuesday."

Update: Finished. What was especially interesting about the epilogue is that the author explored the charge made against Germany that the government, in the face of reparations and debt, deliberately inflated the money, to inflate away those debts. (Not that that really worked out, anyway.) He defends Germany ably against this charge, but the leadership still looks terrible. His view is that most of the political and financial leaders truly didn't understand the relationship between the hyperactive printing press and inflation. The belief was that other causes made the mark drop in value against other currencies, causing the inflation, and the government was then forced to burn up the printing presses just to keep up.

And, as he notes: "What really broke Germany was the constant taking of the soft political option in respect of money. The take-off point [at which hyperinflation became inevitable] therefore was not a financial but a moral one."

Not that there could possibly be any comparison made with our cowardly, craven, and corrupt Congressmen and women. Of course not.


Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly Halfway in, very enjoyable so far.

Finished. Made me want to read more about the French Revolution, the last Dauphin, and also some of the articles about music Donnelly referenced in her bibliography. You do have to swallow some rather big coincidences and accept a certain amount of mystery, but if you just go with it, it's an entertaining story.

Note to Megan: I don't know if it's just because you have been remarking recently about sentence fragments, but I found myself noticing them constantly through this book. I think it probably is just a way to make the first-person narrative voice seem less formal and more authentic and natural? But, yeah...non-stop.

Whose Butt?

Whose Butt? - Kathy Tekiela, Stan Tekiela I am considering getting this for Char for Christmas. Butts... one of her favorite topics and a go-to source of high comedy. I could justify my purchase as encouraging an interest in zoology. Anything that might lead her to the math/science route is beneficial. To be shelved alongside Char's cherished copy of 'Who Pooped in the Sonoran Desert?' which is actually an excellent study of the varying scat and tracks left by different desert animals.

(But why say 'scat' when you can say 'poop?' And laugh until you snort?)

Great Expectations

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens I listened to the unabridged audio narrated by Martin Jarvis. One of the best narration jobs I've ever had the pleasure to listen to. Reminded me of the Harry Potter audios in that each character's voice is completely distinctive and well-suited, yet none are over-the-top. Marvelous.