Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Makedown

makedown This is the second chick-lit book in a row that I have absolutely loved, (and as I’ve said before, this is not my favorite genre.)

The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari was a surprisingly easy read, like your favorite celeb gossip blog only with a character you can relate to and an actual plot to make sense of the madness.

The main character is an over-weight, small town, single girl named Anna who keeps a diary that she addresses as “Dear Fatty”. We get a few flashbacks to her painful adolescence, which are so familiar that I simultaneously giggled and winced as I read them. (Anyone who picked out names for the children they’d have with a New Kid on the Block is a friend of mine.) After graduating college, Anna leaves her weird, dysfunctional family and heads to New York for a new life. After a few false starts she gets the help of “fairy godmother” of sorts, who helps transform her which is somewhat like a modern Cinderella-like story, but this isn’t a fairy tale. Anna lands the man of her dreams, a man she knows is way out of her league, but that childhood insecurity still lurks inside. She worries that he’ll leave her for someone better looking, and so begins the “make down”, which is her attempt at making him less attractive to the women who are actively trying to snatch him away.

This book is full of hilarious pop culture references that any child of the 80’s will identify with. The author did a stellar job of giving Anna a very real voice, and not shying away from those weird thoughts we all have and dismiss. My only warnings are that this book is not for virgin eyes, (curse words and sex scenes abound), and is not totally politically correct, (as Anna’s mother has a proclivity for making racist remarks.)

The Makedown is scheduled for publication towards the end of February 2009. Keep an eye out for it!

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Know It All

know_it_all Know It All: The Little Book of Essential Knowledge by Susan Aldridge, Elizabeth King Humphrey, and Julie Whitaker is a little book that packs big learning. I’m shocked at how much they were able to cram in there, (the font isn’t even teeny tiny and reading it was not tedious at all.)

Know It All is divided into 10 sections with plenty of interesting illustrations, photos, graphs and fun facts: Understanding the Universe, The Story of the Earth, The Story of Life, Exploring the World, Invention and Discovery, Conflicts of the Modern Age, Structure of Society, Religion and Philosophy, Artistic Endeavors, and Quizzes – to help make sure you retained the information.

This book is the perfect refresher for those of us that have been out of school for awhile and feel like some of that textbook learning has been replaced with mundane pop culture junk. I learned some things I must have slept through in school, or maybe it’s just that some of this information was not yet known. (For example, Pluto is no longer counted as a planet. It is now a “dwarf planet”.)

Other interesting things I learned/re-learned:

*One of the brightest stars in the sky, Sirius, is 20 times brighter than the Sun.

*The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second.

*The moon is actually a chunk of Earth that was knocked off the planet when it was only a few tens of millions of years old.

*Diamonds are the hardest known natural material.

*Alexander the Great’s horse was named Bucephalus.

*Columbus died believing he had reached Asia.

*William Caxton’s translation of The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye was the first book printed in English.

*Alfred Nobel invented dynamite which greatly contributed to the Industrial Revolution, making the blasting of rocks, digging of canals, and other construction much easier and less costly. The potential for his invention to be used for evil troubled Nobel though, and so he created a large fund we know as “The Nobel Peace prize” for the promotion of peace.

*Denmark’s Jorn Utzon designed the Sydney Opera House in Australia, but has never visited it in person.

*When Ludwig von Beethoven was about 30 years old he began losing his hearing until he was almost deaf – this did not stop him from composing and playing music, in fact, many believe that some of his finest works were composed after his hearing loss occurred.

The book is great for all ages. I’m passing it on to my 10 year old next. Five stars – Highly recommended.

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