Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Lost Symbol

In the third book of the Robert Langdon series, we're taken through the streets of Washington DC while the symbology professor solves another mystery. This one felt like a bit of a stretch to me, and it was actually hard for me to put the thoughts together I needed for this review. I couldn't really remember the story line as well as I wanted to, if we're being completely honest. So I went back to the book and did a little research.

One of the things I did like was the transition of the setting from Europe to Washington, DC. I know it's not quite the same, but I do appreciate the links and ties to our American history. The incorporation of the Masons was good too, I felt like it added an interesting level to the details of the story. Secretive groups are always fun to add to mysteries.

As with the other books in the series, there is a religious aspect to the search. The search is not only for the missing man but for the meaning behind what is happening in the moment and what's happened to lay the foundation in the past. There's also a point where the discussion turns to whether or not the Bible can be taken as a literal text or if it's really just an allegory for how people should behave and what they could achieve if they were able to reach their full potential.

It's interesting how the things that happened a few hundred years ago can still resonate with people today. Really it's not like our motivations have changed that much. Sure the specifics have, but the underlying emotions and needs are the same no matter where or when you happen to be.  

I didn't see the twist at the end coming. I totally should have- it's the type of thing I can usually spot in the first chapter or two. Spoiler alert- he's the supposedly dead son of the man he's taken captive. 

Having said that, again this one was a little too far fetched for me. I didn't get a good sense that there was any real logic behind the actions of the main characters. Things just fell into place too easily. It felt like a stretch and it felt like Langdon was able to put things together too quickly. I know that he's good and all, but some of the things he figured out wouldn't have come without copious amounts of research and access to some of the best libraries.

Something kind of interesting that I didn't realize about this book- it was released on 9-15-09, which when added together equal 33. Also the highest level with the Masons, as referenced in the book. Well played Dan Brown and publisher, well played.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Have Multiple Copies?

As we continue to build the library within our home, I'm committed to getting beautiful copies of books we love. I love my kindle, especially for books I'm embarrassed to be seen carrying, but for my bookshelves I want books that make a statement. I want mostly hardcover, and I want a lot of them. Occasionally, that means we wind up with multiple copies of a book... or five. There are also other reasons that we wind up with multiple copies of books. Case in point, The Great Gatsby.

I have a hardcover edition that I picked up after reading the book in high school. I've highlighted sections and made notes in the margins. I'm a nerd, I know. You should probably know that by now too, if we're being honest.

I also have a gorgeous art deco style edition that I love. It's the edition that I used in all of the pictures for the Book of the Month posts. I actually have two of that edition. Why two you might ask? Good question. Here's why:

Cute faces right? Not if you happen to be a dust cover that's been removed from the book for easy reading and left on the coffee table while your mom goes into the kitchen to start dinner. In that particular case, the two of you become hostile wrecking machines shredding and chewing the lovely dust cover to pieces. Mom gets mad.

Once I'd calmed down, I went directly to Amazon to order another copy. So now I have two of them, bringing my total copies of Gatsby to three. The one without the dust cover is going to Half Price Books soon though. So I'll be back to two. Completely reasonable.


Other books we have multiples of:

Alice in Wonderland: I have a beautiful 1946 edition of this book, combined with Through the Looking Glass. Original illustrations throughout, absolutely gorgeous. I also have the version that's part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series. I'm trying to collect them all, so I couldn't skip this one. Plus, I love the bright pink flamingoes across the cover.

Dracula- One of our copies is a beautiful edition that's part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith who also designed the Gatsby edition with the art deco cover. The other belonged to my father in law. Beauty and sentimentality- two of my favorite things about books.

Les Miserables: One of our copies is from 1890, so I'm actually afraid to read it since there's a good chance I'll damage it. Fortunately we have another copy. It's one of the Penguin Clothbound Classics, and it's beautiful. I'm much more likely to read this one. It's a someday read, just because the length is a bit daunting.

A Little Princess- one has illustrations by Tasha Tudor and I can remember the exact day my parents bought it for me: while on vacation in the Wisconsin Dells at Storybook Gardens, which closed in 2011; kinda makes me sad. The other is part of the Puffin Classics series with cover designs by Jessica Hische.

Little Women- Again, I have a beautiful edition of this book that's part of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series. I have a very difficult time only buying a few books from a series. Once I start I tend to be a bit obsessive about it until I have them all. The other version I have is one that my mom gave me when I was younger. It's a treasure, not one I can give up easily, and one I intend to pass down to my daughter (if/when I have one). You've probably also noticed a pattern of books as gifts when I was growing up. My mom was a first grade teacher and while she could always say no to requests for flashy toys, she could never refuse a book. Between that and my innate nerdiness, books were always happening.

Rebecca: Again, I have an antique copy. I did try to read  this one and discovered that it's a mis-print. about 50 pages appear twice and 50 pages are missing. This one is from 1938. The other is a paperback version that I picked up since I wanted to be able to read the whole thing. Picture me at Barnes and Noble over my lunch break when I realized I was going to have to stop in the middle of a read. It happens.

The Secret Garden: The story behind this one is almost identical to the story behind the double copies of A Little Princess. I even got my first edition from the same little shop in that park.

Most often when we find that we have two copies of a book, one gets sold or donated. Even with that there are still occasions, like the ones listed above, where we keep each copy.

What about you? Do you have multiple copies of anything?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Winter Garden: White Russian Warmer

Let me start by saying that I wept at the end of this book. Not, I cried a little in a glamorous movie sort of way, but wept in a tears covering my face and leaving a puddle on the pillow where I was reading. Kind of freaked out Loki. He hates it when I cry and always comes over to give kisses and make me feel better, although I suppose it's possible he just thinks my tears are tasty. I'm going with the cute cuddly version where he's being comforting.

So I'm crying over a beautiful story about a mother and her daughters and how what has kept them apart ultimately brings them together. Why does this make me cry? It makes me think of my realtionship with my own mother. She's amazing. I'm so lucky to have her in my life and grateful for the influence that she's been in the past and continues to be. I can't imagine having a strained or difficult relationship with her. Sure we had the normal trials during my teenage years and the requisite disagreements over wedding details (ask me about the reception chairs, I dare you). But even with all of that, and in some wasy because of it, she's one of my best friends. This weekend is her birthday, so wherever I am right now, I'm thinking of her. 

So the cocktail had to be something warm. That way it could go along with the heart warming aspect of the book, and it could actually be enjoyed in winter, or in my case in the air conditioning. It's a variation on a traditional White Russian, and a spin on a drink that I make with coffee infused bourbon.

Kahlua (or other coffee liquer)
Vodka (I went with whipped cream flavored, but vanilla would be nice as well)
Cream (half and half in my case)

Mix 2 parts Kahlua and 1 part vodka with 2 parts very hot water, Use whatever temperature you'd normally use to make a glass of tea. Float cream on top.