A Goomba's Guide to Life, by Stephen Schirripa
Every once in a while, I like to read something "completely different". That's why I read the very amusing, if not somewhat irreverent, book A Goomba's Guide to Life. Written by Stephen Schirripa - who played Bobby Bacala on The Sopranos - this book gives the reader an inside look at the Italian-American "goomba". Schirripa goes to great lengths to explain that a goomba is not a gangster and a gangster is not a goomba. He wears track suits and gold chains - everywhere. He is a dedicated family man - even if he has a woman on the side. He never goes to PTA meetings, opera, rodeos or sappy musicals. Goombas have a specific cultural profile and Schirripa is just the guy to explain it. I laughed and laughed when he described Sunday get-togethers, his mother's pet dog - who kept biting everyone (including his mother!) - and the fate of his pet rabbit. Even though it's a humorous look at New York Italian-Americans, I couldn't help but admire their dedication to family. This is a great book for everyone. You won't be able to put it down.
October 2009 Archives
A Goomba's Guide to Life, by Stephen Schirripa
Duchess of Death, by Richard Hack
The story of Agatha Christie's rise from a writer of short stories as a young English woman into one of the most widely-published authors in history is quite an interesting tale. Her name quickly became synonymous with the very best in the classic, cleverly-constructed, never-easy-to-solve murder mystery. Born in 1890, Christie had a very protected upbringing that did not prevent her from eventually getting her short stories published early in her life. Moving away from that genre, she began to write the murder stories for which she became so famous. While Richard Hack has labeled this book as an "unauthorized biography, he has drawn upon unpublished letters, notes and documents to write Christie's story. How this proper English woman became the master of the murder mystery is quite entertaining. In addition to her great success as a book author, Christies wrote many plays. Quite incredibly, The Mousetrap is the longest-running play in theater history as it premiered in London in 1952 and is still drawing crowds today. One of the more interesting facets of Christie's life is how she became a devoted partner to her second husband Max Mallowan in his exploits as a world-renowned archeologist. Well read by Nicolas Coster, this CD is highly recommended for fans of Christie's books or anyone who wants to learn about a woman whose books have been published in the millions and provided generations of readers terrific entertainment
The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo
Peter Augustus Duchene is a 10 year old orphan who decides to use the money he has been given to purchase bread and visit's a fortuneteller. In another part of the city at the Opera House a magician is performing before Madame LaVaughn and an elephant comes through the roof instead of flowers. The elephant and Peter's fate are tied together by the magician's action and how this will change both of their lives. The story moves along with a host of other colorful characters adding to the story as Peter and the elephant discover how they can help each other. This book is a heart-warming story of love and loss, and holding out hope. A great read-a-loud in the tradition of the Tale of Despereaux and the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. "Magic is always impossible," said the magician. "It begins with the impossible and ends with the impossible and is impossible in between. That is why it is magic." --Excerpt from the The Magician's Elephant.
The Pillars of the Earth , by Ken Follett
Here is the audio book CD version of Ken Follett's monumental tale of 12th Century England that was originally published as a book in 1989. It comprises 32 discs and totals 41 hours, so it is a commitment of time on your part. But as the nights become longer or your commute does too, this is the perfect epic story to slip into. It took this reviewer a trip to Pennsylvania and back plus much daily commuting to finish it. It certainly is worth the effort as a compelling story of life in the 1100s unfolds in all its passion, ambition, treachery, grubbiness and magnificence. A string of memorable characters such as Tom the Builder, Aliena, Prior Philip, Jack, Ellen the witch, William Hanley, Queen Maud, King Stephen, two King Henrys, Thomas Becket and a host of ecclesiastics all figure in this tale. Throughout the tale of hardship, murder, pillaging, and cruelty, the shining beacon is the construction of a Cathedral at Kingsbridge, a job that spanned three generations. If you thought you had a bad day, put yourself into any one of these characters places and see what they endured on a daily basis. Life was tough in the Middle Ages. Here's what Ken Follett himself has to say about this book and here's the skinny on a new mini-series currently being shot in Europe for airing in 2010.
Eleven, by Patricia Reilly Giff
Sam is almost 11 when he discovers papers in a locked box in the attic that make him question his identity. Sam has always had trouble reading and he's desperate to solve this mystery. When he is paired up with new girl Caroline to build a castle for a school project, Sam turns to his new friend for help. But she's moving soon, and the two must hurry to discover the truth about Sam.