Currently Reading . . .

Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan, though I'm not sure why. I seem compelled to read these books--the Percy Jackson ones and now these Kane Chronicles--even though they all have the exact same formula. Admittedly, I still have The Lost Hero on my bookshelf. I nearly finished reading it. Nearly. And I'm struggling with Throne of Fire, too.

What I'd like right about now is a nice Jude Morgan book that I haven't already read. I don't guess there are many of them out there, though, from what I can see. The only one I haven't read yet is on my Amazon wish list because our library doesn't have it.

I also keep meaning to grab Andromeda Klein off the hubby's bookshelf and read it. I bought it for him for some holiday or birthday a year or so ago because he liked the other Frank Portman book so much, but he never finished that one. #wifefail

And I want to try Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock series, too, but (and this is me being picky) I don't like the artwork for the U.S. books, so . . . Maybe I'll have to order them? Haven't decided.


Book Review: Cleopatra: A Life

Stacy Schiff
Little Brown, 2010
384 pages
hard cover


Full disclosure up front. I like history. I minored in ancient and classical history as an undergrad. (Well, we didn't have "minors." We had "secondary concentrations," but it's the same idea.) So this book might not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you like history—or are at least curious about it—but find a lot of the texts dry and lacking in flavor, try this one. Assuming you're at all interested in Cleopatra, of course.

People have been fascinated with Cleopatra VII for centuries. Hell, they were fascinated with her when she was alive, much less afterward. And for all that—all that people think they know, all that people believe to be true about her—we actually know very little. The asp, for example? No one knows for sure, but it's highly unlikely Cleopatra died of a snakebite.

It was nice of Schiff to write this book. In my mind, it's kind of a service. To put in plainer English the truths, to parse out what has been said and the biases involved, the political spins, etc.—this book works as a nice summary for all that. Saves one the work of reading Dio and Plutarch and trying to cut through their agenda. Octavian (aka Augustus) won, after all, which means he and his had the final word. Those words weren't always flattering, nevermind true. Schiff does a nice job of picking them apart.

Still and all, much of Cleopatra's life, what she said or did and why, continues to be a mystery. Conjecture at best. Which is probably why people continue to be fascinated. Tragic love story? Political thriller? All these elements contribute to the lore of Cleopatra, a lore that has been fodder for innumerable books (fiction and non), movies and television mini-series. And will for a long time yet. Even now there is discussion of bringing Schiff's book to the big screen, rumors of having Angelina Jolie play the title role. What other larger-than-life character could any actress aspire to? Cleopatra might define the actress--look at the late Liz Taylor--but she herself refuses to be conscribed.

Though Schiff does a fine job of trying.

Book Preview: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Mindy Kaling
Crown Archetype, 2011
224 pages
hard cover


To be clear, this book won't be out until November, and I've only read selected excerpts.

But I like what I've seen. It's difficult to tell from the selections how cohesive the book is likely to be as a whole; the flavor thus far is very sort of Dave Barry essay-esque. And so there's a lot of humor, which one would expect from one of the writers and actors for The Office, but also some sensitivity and sweetness.

Then again, maybe I only like it because I can totally relate to Kaling's high school experiences and the fact that she likes Sherlock Holmes.

In any case, IEHOWM? is on my Amazon.com wish list. You know, if anyone is looking to buy me something. In November.