Book Club Mom’s March recap – a month of blog posts

Image: Pixabay

March powered through like a freight train on greased wheels and I’m happy to say I didn’t derail!

Spring has finally arrived and, for the first time since I planted bulbs, the bunnies haven’t chomped my flowers down to the nubs. That must be a sign of good things to come!

I had a busy blogging month. I read some good books, profiled two indie authors, brushed up on my vocabulary and grammar, wrote and shared some special posts and made a few YouTube videos.

Here’s a quick “ICYMI” summary of what went down in March at Book Club Mom. Click on the links to visit each post.


Book Reviews

Mar 3: The Widow by Fiona Barton
Mar 11: Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Mar 22: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Mar 24: What If? by Randall Munroe
Mar 30: How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery


Mar 6: Giselle Roeder
Mar 19: Gina Briganti

I love meeting indie authors and I’m always looking for new profiles to post. If you are interested in being featured, please email bvitelli2009@gmail for more information.


Grammar and Vocabulary

(Images: Pixabay)

I may have majored in English, but I make plenty of mistakes. These grammar and vocabulary posts are my way of staying fresh with the rules:

Mar 5: On vocabulary, words both big and small…
Mar 21: “Into” and “in to” – are you into it?
Mar 28: Using ellipses – are you doing it right?


Special Posts

I shared two posts written by my son, Austin Vitelli. The first is a book review and the second is a feature article that appeared in The Morning Call on March 26.

Mar 6: Sweetness by Jeff Pearlman – thoughts on NFL legend Walter Payton
Mar 26: How 3 former Lehigh football players and their friends started a record label


Guest Post on author Jill Weatherholt’s blog

I was excited to be featured on Jill’s blog, where I talk about my blogging experiences (and mistakes!) and tackle the tricky question of what to do when I don’t like a book.

Mar 29: Welcome Book Blogger Book Club Mom


I’m still learning the technical side of making videos, but I’m having a lot of fun along the way. I have some new ideas for April, so stay tuned!

Mar 7: Self-publishing – here’s how we did it!
Mar 13: Walking and listening to audiobooks
Mar 20: Audiobook update and general news!


I hope you had a great month too! Looking forward to more fun in April!

Image: Pixabay

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

American history, Pilgrim marriages and a Thanksgiving memory

Image: Pixabay

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and, although here in the U.S. we are about to enter one of the busiest times of the year, it’s always good to take time to learn the history of our early American settlers, how the Thanksgiving holiday really came about and remember the important family moments that make contemporary holidays meaningful.


Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Do you think you know all about the Mayflower? Check out Nathaniel Philbrick’s comprehensive and scholarly account that begins with Mayflower’s voyage in 1620 and ends with the conclusion of King Philip’s War in 1676. These 102 Separatists and Non-Separatists struggled to survive when they arrived in Plymouth and did anything they could to keep from starving or freezing to death. Made up of printers and weavers and other tradesmen, women and children, they were woefully unprepared for the desperate conditions that killed nearly half of them in the first year.


Guest Post – Noelle Granger “A Little History of Pilgrim Husbands and Wives”

ushistoryimages.com

Noelle Granger, author of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, has some great ideas for her first historical novel, based on the early Plimoth Colony. In this guest post, Noelle talks about her idea and about the history of Pilgrim marriages.


Thanksgiving Memories When You’re Small

When you are little, the large holiday picture is not yet in view. The small memories make the biggest impressions. One of mine is sitting on my mother’s lap at the Thanksgiving table and playing with her gold bracelet.


What are your Thanksgiving traditions and special memories?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Married life for the pilgrims – guest post by N.A. Granger

ushistoryimages.com

If you’re wondering what married life was like for the pilgrims once they got off the Mayflower, take a look at this terrific November 2015 guest post by mystery writer N. A. Granger!


I recently caught up with Noelle Granger, author of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death in Red Canvas Chair and Death in a Dacron Sail. Noelle has some great ideas for her first historical novel, based on the early Plimoth Colony. In the following guest post, Noelle talks about her idea and about the history of Pilgrim marriages.


As an author, I think you are always looking forward to the book you’re going to write next. A plan of mine for the next few years is to write my first historical novel. The subject of the book will be Mary Allerton, who came to the New World on the Mayflower when she was a child of four. She lived a long life, eighty years, and saw the many changes in the Plimoth Colony from the time of its establishment by the Pilgrims in 1620. This will be something new for me – not the research, because I do that for my mystery books – but writing about someone who lived nearly 400 years ago. There is no extant writing about the individual members of the original Plimoth Colony. We don’t know what they looked like or anything about their personalities; in most cases all we have is when and where they were born, when they died and the names of their children. We don’t even know exactly where they are buried, except somewhere on Burial Hill in Plymouth. This gives me great deal freedom and responsibility in terms of what I write, at the same time ensuring that the background is accurate and includes recorded historical events.

I want to make these freedom-seeking people real to my readers, with all their foibles and faults and strengths. They were so much more than just the cardboard cutout figures standing with Native Americans around tables laden with a harvest feast. To give you a taste of this, let me tell you something of what is known of the relationship between a Pilgrim husband and wife.

Male dominance was an accepted principle at the time. Public affairs were not open to women and only males were eligible to become “freemen.” Furthermore, women could be regarded with a kind of suspicion, solely because of their sex. Recall that both Old and New World witches were mainly women, and there were two allegations of witchcraft in records of the colony. Nevertheless, Plimoth’s first pastor, John Robinson, preached that women should not be regarded as necessary evils, but a wife should have the proper attitude toward her husband of “reverend subjugation.” It is interesting there is no evidence of habitual deference of one spouse to another, and I suspect that Pilgrim marriages were much more egalitarian than you might think.

A wife was largely subsumed under the legal personality of her husband, and by British common law could not own property, make contracts or sue for damages on her own. In Plimoth, however, a man was required to provide for his wife in his will, and in some cases, women could make a contract, such as that between a widow and her new husband with regard to the disposition of their respective properties. In some cases, women were allowed to separate from their husbands and they could also be granted liquor licenses! Both spouses were involved in the transfer of land and in the “putting out” of children into foster care, a fairly common occurrence when to the benefit of the child and both the natural and foster parents.

Colony records show instances of domestic disputes. Husbands and wives were expected to live together on a regular basis and in relative peace and harmony. If that were not the case, public condemnation might occur, up to and including a whipping. Sometimes domestic bliss took a village.

A woman might divorce her husband if he was impotent, since it was necessary that a marriage produce children, but marriage was expected to be an exclusive sexual union. Adultery was considered a serious transgression, severe enough to permit divorce and public whipping. Interestingly, adultery only occurred between a married woman and a married man or a married woman and an unmarried man. When a married man engaged in a sexual relationship with an unmarried woman, it was not considered adultery!

I think trying to write about the early Plimoth Colony is going to be both a challenge and great fun, and I plan to post more vignettes from what I learn in the course of my research.


Looking forward to a novel set during this time – thanks Noelle!  Be sure to visit Noelle’s blog at SaylingAway to learn more about her books and other projects.

For more information about the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, check out my reviews of Death in a Red Canvas Chair and Death in a Dacron Sail. And since this original post, Rhe Brewster is deep in a case in Granger’s new mystery, Death by Pumpkin.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair cover  Death in a Dacron Sail cover 

  Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Guest Post – Noelle Granger “A Little History of Pilgrim Husbands and Wives”

ushistoryimages.com
ushistoryimages.com

I recently caught up with Noelle Granger, author of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series. Noelle has some great ideas for her first historical novel, based on the early Plimoth Colony. In the following guest post, Noelle talks about her idea and about the history of Pilgrim marriages.


As an author, I think you are always looking forward to the book you’re going to write next. A plan of mine for the next few years is to write my first historical novel. The subject of the book will be Mary Allerton, who came to the New World on the Mayflower when she was a child of four. She lived a long life, eighty years, and saw the many changes in the Plimoth Colony from the time of its establishment by the Pilgrims in 1620. This will be something new for me – not the research, because I do that for my mystery books – but writing about someone who lived nearly 400 years ago. There is no extant writing about the individual members of the original Plimoth Colony. We don’t know what they looked like or anything about their personalities; in most cases all we have is when and where they were born, when they died and the names of their children. We don’t even know exactly where they are buried, except somewhere on Burial Hill in Plymouth. This gives me great deal freedom and responsibility in terms of what I write, at the same time ensuring that the background is accurate and includes recorded historical events.

I want to make these freedom-seeking people real to my readers, with all their foibles and faults and strengths. They were so much more than just the cardboard cutout figures standing with Native Americans around tables laden with a harvest feast. To give you a taste of this, let me tell you something of what is known of the relationship between a Pilgrim husband and wife.

Male dominance was an accepted principle at the time. Public affairs were not open to women and only males were eligible to become “freemen.” Furthermore, women could be regarded with a kind of suspicion, solely because of their sex. Recall that both Old and New World witches were mainly women, and there were two allegations of witchcraft in records of the colony. Nevertheless, Plimoth’s first pastor, John Robinson, preached that women should not be regarded as necessary evils, but a wife should have the proper attitude toward her husband of “reverend subjugation.” It is interesting there is no evidence of habitual deference of one spouse to another, and I suspect that Pilgrim marriages were much more egalitarian than you might think.

A wife was largely subsumed under the legal personality of her husband, and by British common law could not own property, make contracts or sue for damages on her own. In Plimoth, however, a man was required to provide for his wife in his will, and in some cases, women could make a contract, such as that between a widow and her new husband with regard to the disposition of their respective properties. In some cases, women were allowed to separate from their husbands and they could also be granted liquor licenses! Both spouses were involved in the transfer of land and in the “putting out” of children into foster care, a fairly common occurrence when to the benefit of the child and both the natural and foster parents.

Colony records show instances of domestic disputes. Husbands and wives were expected to live together on a regular basis and in relative peace and harmony. If that were not the case, public condemnation might occur, up to and including a whipping. Sometimes domestic bliss took a village.

A woman might divorce her husband if he was impotent, since it was necessary that a marriage produce children, but marriage was expected to be an exclusive sexual union. Adultery was considered a serious transgression, severe enough to permit divorce and public whipping. Interestingly, adultery only occurred between a married woman and a married man or a married woman and an unmarried man. When a married man engaged in a sexual relationship with an unmarried woman, it was not considered adultery!

I think trying to write about the early Plimoth Colony is going to be both a challenge and great fun, and I plan to post more vignettes from what I learn in the course of my research.


Looking forward to a novel set during this time – thanks Noelle!  Be sure to visit Noelle’s blog at SaylingAway to learn more about her books and other projects.

For more information about the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, check out my reviews of Death in a Red Canvas ChairDeath in a Dacron Sail and Death in a Mudflat.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair cover  Death in a Dacron Sail cover    

  Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

What’s That Book? I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead by Crystal Zevon

I hope you enjoy this new feature of my blog.  Many thanks to “DD” for being the first contributor!

Whats That Book

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

TitleI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon

Author:  Crystal Zevon, Warren Zevon’s former wife and lifelong friend

Genre: Biography

Rating:  3 stars

What’s it about?  The structure of the book is a composite of quotations from friends, family, fellow musicians and music industry executives. It chronicles Zevon’s life starting with his relationship with Igor Stravinsky, through his ugly destructive alcoholic period, his relationships with friends, family, and children, his commercial success and ends with his life-ending battle with cancer.

The book includes quotations from family members, Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Barry, Billy Bob Thorton, David Letterman and many more, all admirers of his song writing and wit.  It also includes excerpts from his personal diary providing insight into his perspective and a personality which varied from a sensitive and thoughtful friend, husband and father to a cold and distant figure to the very same people.            

What I liked the most about I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead was rediscovering his music, lyrics and wit. I was reminded of the many songs and lyrics I enjoyed and shared with family and friends, the concerts I attended and how for a period of my life his music very rarely left our turntable.  While reading this book I listened to his music nearly every day and downloaded many of his songs onto my iPad.  If you are or were a fan I recommend reading this book.

Closing comment:  Upon finishing the book I could not understand how a man who regularly destroyed relationships through his behaviour and distance could also have so many admirers and close friends. But being only a fan, the enjoyment of his music is what matters most to me. Whether you read the book or not, it is worthwhile to dust off those old albums, download his music onto your iPad or iPhone and fill your days with his music once again as I have done.

Contributor: DD

Have you read something you’d like to share?  Consider being a contributor!  Contact bvitelli2009@gmail.com for more information.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli – a review of banned books

I’d like to welcome back my guest blogger, Austin Vitelli. Today, he has submitted a review of banned books.

Reading Banned Books

Last semester, I took a class at Lehigh University titled “Reading Banned Books”. The class was exactly what it sounds like—we spent the entire semester reading books that had either been banned somewhere in the world at some point in history or were still banned now. We were originally supposed to read nine books, but two of them, The Catcher in the Rye and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, were cut from the syllabus because we ran out of time. In this post, I’m going to rank the books I read and give my reasons for liking and/or disliking each one.

  1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

I will start out with my least favorite of the bunch: Lady Chatterley’s Lover. This was my first time reading anything by Lawrence, and while I understand this is supposed to be a classic, I found it too long. It seems to be more geared towards female readers (not that guys can’t enjoy it). The storyline itself was okay, but I often found Lawrence trying to inject himself into the story in a way that didn’t add to the story.

  1. Beloved, by Toni Morrison

This is another book I would loosely define as a “girl’s book.” Based on the fact that 80 percent of my class was indeed girls, I can see how they probably enjoyed this whole list more than I did, but this was also not my cup of tea. This was also my first time reading Morrison. The book itself was quite confusing, bouncing between the past and present often and sometimes without saying so. I feel like a second read would do this more justice, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of my to-do list.

  1. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

This was similar to Beloved in that it probably deserves a second read to fully enjoy it. A tale of twins in India and the challenge of the caste system made for many very interesting discussions in my class, but it was also quite confusing. It jumped around a lot as well and would’ve been very difficult to understand on my own without talking about it with the class. Still, an interesting read.

  1. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

I read this my senior year of high school and hated it so much that I declared it the worst book I’d ever read. After reading it a second time though, I appreciated it a whole lot more. Books that deal with feminism and women’s rights are not ones I would purposely read, although clearly still extremely important. The story of Edna Pontellier and her search for freedom was one I cared about much more than the first time reading through.

  1. The War Prayer, by Mark Twain

This was actually a poem, but the copy I read had illustrations that really added to the charged topic of war that this piece discussed. What happens when you think about the people on the “other side” or losing side of war? After writing this, Twain smartly said it shouldn’t be published until after he died for fear of the backlash it would create in the patriotic society of the time. It’s a very powerful poem that, as with many of these, should be read more than once to truly appreciate it.

  1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

I was not at all expecting to like this, but I was pleasantly surprised. A piece of investigative journalism in “fiction” form, it uncovered some of the terrible atrocities going on in the food production and meat-packing industries. It’s dense and heavy, so don’t take it to the beach for a pleasure read, but it’s something I think everyone should read. As an aspiring journalist myself, I found extra enjoyment in reading it.

  1. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

There was no question as to my favorite from this list. Vonnegut is my favorite author and this is one of my favorite books of all time. This was my second time reading it, and I think I somehow enjoyed it more the second time. Billy Pilgrim’s time-traveling adventures and Vonnegut’s simple writing style are sure to keep you interested, as long as you don’t mind a pinch of science fiction mixed in.

Bottom line: classics should be read multiple times in order to enjoy and understand them fully. It’s impossible to pick up on every detail in a book on a first read, especially deeply intellectual ones like those on this list. I am sure that if I read them all twice, this list would probably look different, but I can say with certainty that sometimes it’s good to read classics like these even if you know you’re not going to particularly like them. They really make you think, and that’s what’s most important.

Many thanks to Austin for writing this terrific review! Austin loves to read and he is an aspiring sports writer. To find out more about him, be sure to visit Austin’s website at austinvitelli.com.

Austin Vitelli
Austin Vitelli

My name is Austin Vitelli and I am a junior at Lehigh University. I am a Rodale Scholar and plan to major in Journalism with a minor in Economics. I graduated from Downingtown East High School. I am currently a writer and the sports editor for Lehigh’s student-run newspaper, The Brown and White. I also manage the Brown and White Sports Twitter account.

Be sure to check out Austin’s other great guest posts:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Foer

Paper Towns, by John Green

Things That Matter, by Charles Krauthammer

 Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli – a review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Foer

I’d like to welcome back my guest blogger, Austin Vitelli. Today, he has submitted a review of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer.

from GoodreadsExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer
Rating: 5/5

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a special novel, and one that immediately made its way into my top 10 books of all time. Its use of a child narrator and dealing with the aftereffects of 9/11 on his life produced a quite sad, but memorable story.

The story is about Oskar Schell, a 9-year-old boy who loses his father in 9/11 and now has to live with only his mother. A year later, he finds a key in a vase in his father’s room and believes finding what it opens will help him reach closure over his dad’s death. He goes on a search throughout New York City for everyone with the last name “Black”, which was written on the envelope in which Oskar found the key. The book chronicles his adventures and the people he meets, as well as the aftermath of living without his father, with whom he had a close relationship.

I personally loved the use of a child as the narrator, as I found it very effective in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. That book was written before Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and featured a child narrator who also had Asperger Syndrome and was also six years older, giving this book a different perspective at what it’s like to read a book through a child’s eyes. Oskar was certainly advanced for his age though, as it’s unlikely that a nine-year-old would be able to travel around NYC without hitting more than a few roadblocks.

Still, it’s fictional, and some things are worth looking past in order to enjoy the story to its fullest. Expecting everything to be completely real in a fiction book defeats the purpose—the author knows it’s fiction, not everything has to be 100% realistic.

The main plot is mixed in with letters written by multiple characters to Oskar, but most often by Oskar’s grandmother, who lives across the street and is very close to Oskar. Her letters add her background into the story and create an interesting subplot as she tells Oskar about his grandfather (the father of Oskar’s father), who neither Oskar nor his father met.

Hearing all the different stories about people that Oskar meets is one of the most interesting parts. He often has no filter on the questions he asks people and tells them random facts, things that nine-year-olds are expected to do, adding a level of credibility to the narrator. It automatically causes the reader to “cheer for” Oskar to find what he’s looking for as he explores the city.

Despite the interesting nature of the search, this book is incredibly sad. Oskar has phone messages that his father left on the answering machine at their house that he plays over and over to himself, but never tells anyone else about. He’s simultaneously trapping this terrible day (or “the worst day” as he calls it) in his memory, but protecting it from his mother as well. He has to deal with the fact that he was there when the last couple messages were left, and he didn’t pick up the phone. He never saw his father again. The emotion captured from this aspect of the novel is one of the driving forces of the overall story.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close movie
The Movie

Shortly after finishing the book, I watched the movie to get a comparison. While I liked the movie, it just wasn’t the same and left out certain details that I thought were important parts of the book. For example, for part of Oskar’s search, he goes around with one Mr. A Black, one of the people he met on his search. In the movie, this doesn’t happen at all, and Black is essentially cut out of the movie entirely except for a few seconds in one scene. I know the movie can only be so long (it was just over two hours), but deleting this character completely seemed wrong.

Also, the actor who played Oskar was 14 years old at the release of the movie, which made it a lot harder to buy into the movie itself. The five year difference between a 9-year-old and a 14-year-old is too significant to brush aside and made it both more and less realistic. It was more realistic because it’s more likely that a 14-year-old could go on the search that Oskar did, but less realistic because he was still supposed to be a 9-year-old in the movie.

One thing I found interesting after doing some reading was that in the movie, Oskar was intentionally supposed to appear as if he were somewhere on the autism spectrum. Foer said he didn’t intend for Oskar to be Autistic in the novel, but I couldn’t help seeing similarities between his character and Christopher, the narrator in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Overall though, I thought Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks did a great job representing Oskar’s parents, and the story itself was played out well. The ending was a bit different than in the book though—it was more of a “movie” ending if that makes sense. If not, I’ll let you read the book and watch the movie to see for yourself.

Many thanks to Austin for writing this terrific review! Austin loves to read and he is an aspiring sports writer. To find out more about him, be sure to visit Austin’s website at austinvitelli.com.

Austin Vitelli
Austin Vitelli

My name is Austin Vitelli and I am a junior at Lehigh University. I am a Rodale Scholar and plan to major in Journalism with a minor in Economics. I graduated from Downingtown East High School. I am currently a writer and the sports editor for Lehigh’s student-run newspaper, The Brown and White. I also manage the Brown and White Sports Twitter account.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli – a review of Paper Towns by John Green

paper towns

I’d like to welcome back my guest blogger, Austin, of The Philly Sports Report. Today, he has submitted a review of Paper Towns, by John Green. Austin is a student at Lehigh University and is an aspiring sports writer. You can check out his blog and website at: http://austinvitelli.com/. Thanks Austin!

Paper Towns
by John Green
Rating: 4/5

With The Fault in Our Stars movie being released tomorrow, it seems like all of the talk about John Green is about how amazing the movie is going to be. Well, this review is actually about one of his other extremely popular novels and the next one of them that will be made into a movie, Paper Towns. It takes place in Orlando, Florida, as narrator Quentin, or just “Q” as his friends call him, goes through what his life was like at the end of his senior year of high school and his crush on his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman.

I use her full name because, well, John Green feels the need to say it like that almost every time she is mentioned, even when characters are talking about her. Saying her full name is necessary because Margo Roth Spiegelman is essentially the “queen” of the school whom everyone envies for one reason or another. On a string of late night pranks, she introduces the idea of a paper town to Q, suggesting that their town inside Orlando is a paper town full of paper people.

What she means by this is that in the end, everyone is fake and nobody cares about anything that actually matters. Thus, everyone is basically just “paper.” But, “paper towns” takes on another meaning: a subdivision that was never fully developed and was left either half-built or was never built at all. When Margo runs away without telling anyone just a few days before graduation, Q becomes obsessed with finding the girl that he has loved deep down for so long.

He searches through all the local subdivisions to find her, thinking she’ll be in one of them. His obsession basically takes over his life, and he begins to appear as the “bad friend” among his best friends, Ben and Radar. As the story progresses, each character begins to show how he or she is paper. Ben spends half the book talking about how he’s the biggest “ladies man” to never have an opportunity to actually have a girlfriend, and then becomes obsessed with prom. Q gets upset at the turn that Ben has taken, but Radar makes a point that that’s how Ben is, not the person who Q hopes he is.

Q is paper because he cares about the idea of what Margo is without getting to know her as an actual person. He suffers the same problem with Ben. He wants Ben to be who he wants him to be, and is disappointed when he’s not. As for Margo, almost everyone has a paper view of who Margo is. They may view her as a queen, but deep down, she’s just a person like everyone else. I found this concept very intriguing in a world where many people are either materialistic as they get older, or, for younger people around the characters’ age, care a lot about popularity and social status. Margo uses the metaphor of paper towns to point out that people are sometimes just people, and to not think of anyone as someone better than they actually are.

While I really liked most of the book and can clearly see why it was a New York Times Bestseller, I do have a few qualms. Q’s obsession with finding Margo and unlocking her takes over the book and everything he cares about to the point that it seems unrealistic for even a piece of fiction. The lengths that he goes to find this girl made me roll my eyes more than once, and made his friends roll their eyes even more. He becomes “the bad friend” for only caring about his own issue, and continues to shove the issue down the throats of all the other characters. I’m not sure how this can be avoided, but it seems like Green went a bit overboard with it.

Also, the concept of a guy desperately trying to unlock the mystery of a girl he loves but can’t have is the same concept as Green’s other novel, Looking for Alaska. It’s an easy concept to draw a lot of readers in because more than one guy has dealt with this (and it’s a surefire concept to draw in the female audience). But, it just seemed a little too similar to use in both of the novels. Sure, it’s a great concept, but it seems like he copied part of the formula of Looking for Alaska in order to get another top-selling book.

Regardless, the pros outweigh the cons and make this a book definitely worth reading for lovers of the young adult genre, as well as the John Green fanatics. So as people flock to see The Fault in Our Stars in theaters, don’t forget that Green is not a one-hit wonder. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to writing books.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Guest Blogger Austin Vitelli: Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

I’d like to welcome my next guest blogger, austinv56 of The Philly Sports Report (http://austinv56.wordpress.com/).  He has reviewed Things That Matter, by Charles Krauthammer.

things that matter pic

Things That Matter
by Charles Krauthammer
Rating: 3.5/5

There is no doubt that Charles Krauthammer, graduate of McGill University and Harvard Medical School, knows what he’s talking about. He’s been a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post for nearly 30 years. He’s also a regular on Fox News in the Special Report with Bret Baier. His knowledge of U.S. foreign policy is unparalleled by many in the world, especially for political journalists such as himself. His life, as told through his columns, certainly makes an interesting story.

This book includes many of his columns from The Washington Post, as well as other pieces he wrote for Time, The New Republic, and Weekly Standard. He organizes it into three parts—personal, political, and historical—which are then subdivided by chapters depending on the specific topic. His pieces range broadly from Halley’s Comet to controversial art exhibits to speed chess. He discusses whatever he likes, and he makes it perfectly clear that he won’t be censored. These are smart moves, coming from the 1987 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for political commentary.  Things That Matter was a #1 New York Times Best Seller for eight weeks this year and has been a top-seller for the last nineteen weeks.

The most interesting section of the book in my opinion was the first section, in which he discusses many personal matters such as people who strongly impacted his life and various other things he’s discovered about the world. He even created his own law, Krauthammer’s First Law, in which he declares that “everyone is Jewish until proven otherwise.” If you’re looking for a book devoid of opinions, you will not enjoy this book. He makes his thoughts known again and again through his column, and he makes no attempt to hold back.

He cleverly puts the personal section first so as to not deter people who disagree with his political views from reading the book. Once you begin the politics section though, he immediately begins arguing his Conservative points, going against nearly every Liberal view possible. But, he does it in a way that’s not (intentionally) insulting because he’s able to argue his points intelligently and thoroughly. Of course, the extreme Liberal will likely find this book awful because of his views, but as a Liberal myself, I still found merit in many of his points.

So why only 3.5/5? Well, first off, his Conservatism begins to run rampant as he bashes nearly every action and non-action that President Obama has made, especially in foreign policy, to the point where you feel like you’re reading copy from Fox News (which maybe isn’t too wild of an accusation since he appears on Fox News often). He does do a good job of explaining all of his opinions, but he can often sound intellectually arrogant, a characteristic that no one finds appealing regardless of political affiliation.

Also, to fully understand his book, you will need access to a dictionary at all times. Going back to the intellectual arrogance, it can rub the reader the wrong way when using large, difficult words in literally every sentence, sometimes multiple times per sentence. Congratulations, you would ace the vocabulary section of the SAT, but that doesn’t mean you need to brag about your expansive knowledge of vocabulary by using words and references that, frankly, no one ever uses in writing or conversation. I understand this man is extremely smart, but there’s no need to intentionally sound superior.

Regardless, I still think it’s worth the read because he’s made many interesting observations about the world and has a very peculiar life story (psychiatrist turned journalist). With the far left Liberal like it? No, probably not. Has this made me want to turn on Fox News? No, not at all. Was I entertained by many of his stories and points though? Yes, absolutely.

About austinv56:  Austin is a Rodale Scholar and majors in Journalism at Lehigh University.  He writes about professional sports in Philadelphia and covers the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as top NFL and NBA news.  At Lehigh he is a Staff Writer for the sports section of The Brown and White and is the newspaper’s official live-tweeter for sports events.   Be sure to check out The Philly Sports Report at:  http://austinv56.wordpress.com/!

Thanks for visiting Book Club Mom!

Book Preview – Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer

I am very excited to be hosting my next guest blogger, austinv56 of The Philly Sports Report ( http://austinv56.wordpress.com/).  Austin will be reviewing Charles Krauthammer’s newest book, Things That Matter.

things that matter pic

Things That Matter:
Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics
by Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a regular political commentator and analyst for FOX News Channel.  Here is a his biography as it appears on FoxNews.com (http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/personalities/charles-krauthammer/bio/#s=h-l):

Charles Krauthammer currently serves as a contributor for FOX News Channel (FNC), where he contributes political commentary and analysis across FNC’s daytime and primetime programming.

Krauthammer makes frequent appearances on Special Report with Bret Baier, The O’Reilly Factor and FOX News Sunday. He is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated journalist and physician as well as a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a weekly panelist on PBS’ Inside Washington. Additionally, Krauthammer joined The Washington Post in 1984, where he continues to write a weekly political column. He began his journalism career at The New Republic.

Prior to his career in journalism, Krauthammer served as a speech writer to Vice President Walter Mondale in 1980 and as chief resident in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Throughout his career, Krauthammer has been a recipient of several awards, including the 2013 William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence, the 1984 National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticisms, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the first annual Bradley Prize. Additionally, he is the author of “Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics” and “Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World.”

Krauthammer graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in political science and economics. He went on to become a Commonwealth Scholar at Balliol College in Oxford and earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

About austinv56:  Austin is a Rodale Scholar and majors in Journalism at Lehigh University.  He writes about professional sports in Philadelphia and covers the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as top NFL and NBA news.  At Lehigh he is a Staff Writer for the sports section of The Brown and White and is the newspaper’s official live-tweeter for sports events.

Come back tomorrow for this review and also be sure to check out The Philly Sports Report at:  http://austinv56.wordpress.com/

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!