Sunday, February 01, 2015

Happy 10th Birthday Butterfly Books Blog, RIP Colleen McCullough and Gulp by Mary Roach, Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Happy Birthday Book Blog!
Today, Superbowl Sunday, marks the 10th anniversary of Butterfly Books, which I began at the suggestion of my husband, who was tired of me whining about being bored by the football game.Today's football game is bound to be much more interesting, because it will be a battle between the Seattle Seahawks and the cheating New England Patriots, who are based in the most dreadful town I've ever lived in, Boston. The Pats have been using under-inflated footballs to gain an advantage, as well as listening in on the other teams plays, so Seahawk fans are looking for them to try and repeat such shenanigans today to try and win the game. Hopefully, they will be unsuccessful. Meanwhile, I have 445 posts on this blog, and I hope to have 500 by the end of the year.   

I read and enjoyed this book, and I sincerely hope that it is a hit on Broadway.
On Stage: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is being developed as a Broadway
musical by Tony award-winning producer Peter Schneider (The Lion King)
and Elisabetta di Mambro, who has produced the works of Robert Wilson
worldwide for the past 25 years. Schneider and di Mambro acquired the
rights in association with Broadway Across America and Mehr!

"I am beyond thrilled to be involved in a creative process that is
entirely new to me, especially with such wonderfully talented people at
the helm to reimagine my work for the stage," said Gruen. "When I wrote
the book, I hoped people would think about the way we treat those who
are dependent on us--animals, the elderly, the debilitated, as well as
the power of love in all its forms, and it's going to be amazing to see
this message delivered in such an exciting medium."

Schneider said he had loved the novel "since it was first published and
was captivated by its theatricality. It is so dramatic--a woman who is
trapped in a relationship for all the wrong reasons meets and falls in
love with a man for all the right reasons. Throw in an elephant as a
matchmaker and you have the potential for a show of great imagination
and emotional depth."

Added di Mambro: "The novel evokes an exotic, colorful and gorgeous
world and yet its very human emotions are instantly recognizable and
universal. We are just starting the creative process, beginning to talk
with composers, writers, and directors who can help transform this
vibrant world onto the musical stage. Aware of the exciting challenge
ahead of us, we are grateful that Sara Gruen has given us the rights to
bring her beloved story and characters to life as a global musical."

 I was stunned to read that this great Australian author had died on Friday this week, and was equally stuned and horrified when her obituary in the Australian Times newspaper read that she was overweight and unattractive, but still managed to be a scientist and a renown author. Fortunately, other famous authors and fans immediately came to her defense by posting their own obituaries that focused on their physical flaws and downplayed their accomplishments and books.
Colleen McCullough
whose Thorn Birds was an international bestseller, died today at her
home on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific. She was 77.

While working as a research associate in the neurology department at
Yale University, McCullough, an Australian, wrote The Thorn Birds. The
family saga set in the Australian outback was an immediate worldwide hit
when published in 1977 and was made into an equally popular TV
miniseries that first aired in 1983. All told, The Thorn Birds sold 30
million copies and is "the highest-selling Australian book," according
to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Altogether McCullough wrote 25 novels. Her series set in ancient Rome
was noted for its meticulous research; she also wrote a detective series
set in the U.S. in the 1960s. Her final book, Bittersweet, was published
in 2013.
Gulp by Mary Roach is the February book we're reading in my Library Book Group. It was partially in response to a request by several of the participants for more non fiction books that I chose this book for us to read. I'd also heard from my mother, who is a Mary Roach fan, that it was funny and wonderful. I found it to be an interesting mix of amusing and gross. Here's the blurb:The irresistible, ever-curious, and always best-selling Mary Roach returns with a new adventure to the invisible realm we carry around inside.
“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions explored in Gulp are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find words for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? In Gulp we meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks of—or has the courage to ask. We go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a fecal transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal. With Roach at our side, we travel the world, meeting murderers and mad scientists, Eskimos and exorcists (who have occasionally administered holy water rectally), rabbis and terrorists—who, it turns out, for practical reasons do not conceal bombs in their digestive tracts.
Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies. 
What I enjoyed most about the book were the unusual things that I didn't know about our digestive system, such as the stomach lining regenerating every three days, and the "prison wallet" rectum that prisoners use to carry contriband into prison stretching to include a whole host of office supplies (giving that prisoner the nickname of OD, for Office Depot). roach revels in the names of people involved in the gastroenterological sciences, from Dr Crap to a food scientist studying ways to make animal testicals tasty at Ball State University. The prose is slightly dry and yet it manages to cut through scientific jargon well enough so that the book only lags a couple of times. Definitely deserving of an A, I would recommend it to friends who aren't squeamish about poop, but who find the human body and its organs endlessly fascinating.
Burned by Karen Marie Moning is the 7th book in the Fever series, all of which I've read. What surprised me about this book was how brutal, bloody and downright nasty things have gotten for our heroines Mac and Dani. The answer to every problem is violence and death, and there seems to be few ways for a young woman to survive, other than to develop multiple personality disorder and/or constantly wrestle with the evil book that resides inside of you by reciting Poe's The Raven. Oh, and having lots of sex with big, violent immortal men/faecreatures. Here's the blurb:It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.
MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.

When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil is blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth. 
Spoiler alert! Mac spends about half of this book invisible, which allows her to discern the secrets of Ryodan and others, but also palls after awhile, as it does for the reader. However, because she's invisible, she doesn't have these stinky black vulturecreature-things following her around anymore, and she doesn't hear all the seductive persuasions from the evil book inside of her, either. While that is a relief for Mac, and for readers, it renders her somewhat ineffective and seems to make her unable to continue her sexual relationship with Barrons, whom she thinks and talks about obsessively. What is sad about that is that she makes it clear that the "nine" immortal beasts, of which Barrons is one, do not have feelings of love or kindness or compassion within them, supposedly, but they do lust constantly, and that makes the women who bed them seem little more than sex objects, disposable and interchangeable. Yet Barrons clearly has feelings for Mac and considers her "his" as in owning her, which she apparently likes. Ryodan seems to have these same feelings for grown up Jada/Dani, which comes off as more than slightly creepy and pedophilic. Instead of making the book more romantic, it somehow made Mac and Jada and Jo seem pathetic in their love of the immortal men whom they bed. As if they have no actual control over their own bodies or sexuality, and they're just weak women to be owned and used by big strong men. Ugh. The feminist in me found this somewhat nauseating, as I did all the violence and gore and stupidity of Mac, who seemed smarter in previous books.I was astonished that she actually gave away her spear, which as been one of her main ways to stay alive in this dystopian Ireland full of brutality. Still, since the book ends abruptly and it is clear there's more to come, perhaps Mac will develop a more equal relationship with Barrons, as will Jada with Ryodan.I'd give this book a B, and recommend it to those who've read the other 6 books in the series, because it isn't a book that will make sense on its own.

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