Archive for May, 2010

May 16th, 2010

What Are You Reading? (May 16, 2010)

by Gwen

Welcome to the new home of Chew & Digest Books! I got a wild idea to make the switch to WordPress the other night. side note: ideas born of insomnia at 3 AM are seldom good ones. I am still working out the kinks and such.

If any of you are wordpress users and have favorite sites for hints & tips, I would REALLY appreciate them.

Books completed last week:

Books on tap for this week:

Posts/Reviews last week:

Books I Still Need to Write Reviews On:

My Good News:

Can no bad news be considered good news? I think that qualifies in my book.

May 14th, 2010

Excuse The Dust!

by Gwen

So at 3 AM this morning, not being able to sleep, I decided to make the move to self hosting and wordpress. I finally fell asleep at about 6 AM and woke up to realize that I have a lot to do besides just changing a few settings!

No good dead at 3 AM goes unpunished. Bear with me.

May 14th, 2010

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey ~Review

by Gwen

The Third Rail and Michael Harvey’s Chicago
1n 1977 a Chicago EL train derailed and four cars flew off of the tracks, killing 11. Harvey takes off from the real life story and sends us into present day Chicago. On the anniversary of the terrible accident someone is taking out commuters and consistently pulls retired police officer current PI, Mike Kelly into the fray.

Kelly is the first to make the connection, understandably since he and his father were on the trains that day and survived. Kelly is led into a game of cat and mouse to the death with the covert backing of the mayor and even the FBI.

The thrilling mix of history touching murder today really kept me interested. Is it one of the original victims family members? Why does the killer keep sending him seemingly unrelated clues to a company that had been swallowed up by larger businesses over a hundred years ago. And why does he also have a grudge against the Catholic Church?

My one gripe with The Third Rail was that the beginning was a bit choppy. It took me a few pages to figure out what was going on because the voices and tenses seemed to change without warning. The problem went away within 20 pages or so.

There is a great article about Michael Harvey and The Third Rail at Crimes & Misdemeanors.

The Third Rail by Michael Harvey

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (April 20, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0307272508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307272508
    Thank you FSB Associates for introducing me to this great book!
  • May 13th, 2010

    The Bucolic Plague: From Drag Queen to Goat Farmer by Josh Kilmer-Purcell ~Review

    by Gwen


    What happens when two New Yorkers (one an ex–drag queen) do the unthinkable: start over, have a herd of kids, and get a little dirty?

    The Bucolic Plague starts off with the most hilarious Authors Caution that I have ever read.

    This book is not about living your dream. It will not inspire you. You will not be emboldened to attempt anything more than making a fresh pot of coffee.
    The author reminds you that there are plenty of other memoirs out there written by courageous souls who have broken with their past, poetically leaving behind things such as:
    1. Drugs and/or Drinking
    2. Career Ennui
    3. Bad Relationships
    ….and have successfully achieved goals such as:
    1. Creative Fulfillment
    2. The Simple Life
    3. Jesus’s Approval
    The author notes that those memoirs are generally full of more shit than a bard at the end of a long winter.

    The Bucolic Plague had me from that page and I couldn’t put it down. Part memoir, part making fun of the things that we all try and fail the first time around, it kept me cheering for the pair. You find yourself cheering for them at the same time you are could I pull this off?

    Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a former drag queen and current ad executive and his partner, Dr. Brent Ridge, formerly a Vice President of Healthy Living at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, were on an apple picking trip in upstate New York when they stumbled upon the Beekman Mansion in Sharon Springs. It was love at first site with the historic home completed in 1802.

    The pair thought that it would make a great getaway home and that it would be fun to become gentleman farmers. How hard could it be, right? Let me tell you right now, the fun really begins when you are cleaning up poop covered goats with wet naps for their debut on the Martha Stewart show and gets better from there.
    What was a bonus to The Bucolic Plague was the over all message Kilmer-Purcell learns and shares with us. That it isn’t about being perfect, like Martha Stewart, or about having the “best life” like Oprah, it is about living the best way for you.

    If you pick up one memoir this year, make it this one. You’ll laugh, you will encounter zombie flies and you will learn some very important things.

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    May 12th, 2010

    A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis

    by Gwen

    A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History
    Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America’s Hidden History
    This is the second book of Davis’ that I have read and I have to say that I liked this one a lot better. (the other was America’s Hidden History)

    Davis is an artist at turning small seldom known events in American history into easy to digest, about 20-25 page, stories that hold your interest and leaving you questioning your own knowledge of the
    US. Those nuggets also lead me to want to know more and that is perhaps, what I enjoy so much about his work.

    A Nation Rising, focusing on 1800 through 1850, includes the tale of Aaron Burr’s trial for treason, Major Francis Dade’s massacre by Indians in the area that would later be named Dade County, Florida, a brave woman’s , Jessie Freemont, journey to the gold rush in California through the treacherous Isthmus of Panama, and more.

    The chapter that intrigued me the most was Morse’s Code. Did you know that Samuel F. B. Morse, the guy that came up with the Morse Code, was a fervent anti-Catholic? In just 35 pages, Kenneth C. Davis explained to me something that I had been struggling to understand for years, why our nation was so fervently opposed to Catholics or what many at the time called Romanism/papism.

    Any book that can explain something that I have been perplexed over for years in just a few pages, is golden in my life. The other thing that Davis does so well is showing us the men behind the myths in history. Our founding fathers and other bright lights in American history were human. They did great things, but the things that are often hidden over time are just as important in understanding these men. No real person is perfect and the myths that we build up around our fearless leaders often make them seem infallible and therefore, makes it really hard to see them in our own lives. Davis shows the men, warts and all and that makes what they achieved not only more grand, but makes it seem possible that we could achieve great things in our own imperfect lives.

    Bravo Kenneth C. Davis!

    A Nation Rising by Kenneth C. Davis

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian (May 11, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0061118206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061118203