Blog Posts by Ultra Violet

Posted by Ultra Violet on 06/03/09
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Crowley the demon and Aziraphale, an angel, have gotten to be friends over the millenia that they've spent together on earth. They have both gotten to quite enjoy the human race and all of its fascinating creations. So it's a very unpleasant surprise for them when Crowley is called upon (by a Lower Power) to deliver the Antichrist to its unsuspecting host family. The baby looks like any other and has eleven years before he will begin Armageddon. That gives Crowley and Aziraphale time to try and save the world. The twisted mind of Neil Gaiman and the outlandish silliness of Pratchett blend nicely in Good Omens to create a fun, and oddly life-affirming book. "The Apocalypse has never been funnier..." -Clive Barker
Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/14/09
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Maria's cousin Tsugumi has been frail and weak ever since she was born. Everyone was so worried about Tsugumi, and she was so enchantingly beautiful that she was never corrected or punished for anything. Without limits, Tsugumi was a nasty, rude and even cruel young girl. The fact that she was often very ill and in pain only made her lash out more. Maria and her mother lived with Tsugumi's family in a small oceanside village. Her father lived in Tokyo with his vindictive wife who refused to give him a divorce.  He visited Maria and her mother every  weekend since Maria was born until she was a teenager. As cruel as Tsugumi i, Maria feels a strong bond between them. She is really the only person who understands Tsugumi, but even she gets frustrated with her humiliating pranks and embarrassing outbursts. Banana Yoshimoto writes with a poetic, nostalgic literary voice. She expresses Tsugumi's intensity caused by her close relationship with death in these terms, "She shone with a look of such utter happiness that you got the feeling she must have sped up the pace of her life somehow, that she was fighting to cram more life into each passing moment. Looking at her you felt a touch of unease-- a feeling that seemed to flicker through the depths of your chest, the way light glimmers through a hole in a cloud." Goodbye Tsugumi is an unusual, delicate and moving story of the relationship of two cousins and our relationship with mortality.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 04/14/09
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Vincent Van Gogh was greatly influenced by a number of artists but none more than Paul Gauguin. The Yellow House provides the foundation of Vincent's biography leading up to the nine weeks he spent in Provence with Gauguin. Vincent was so inspired by the light, colors and culture of Southern France that he begged Gauguin to join him there. The two artists lived and worked together in the yellow house until Vincent suffered a complete mental collapse. The Yellow House vividly illustrates the intensity of  Van Gogh's artistic vision, his insanity and his relationship with Gauguin in a way that I have not seen in other books about him. Gayford also poses some interesting questions about the connection between mental illness and creativity. Proposing that, had Vincent Van Gogh benefited from modern psychiatry, he may not have produced anything of value.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 03/20/09
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It is hard enough to believe in love at first sight under the best of conditions, but for Corinne Hofmann intense attraction led to marriage. She was a Swiss tourist traveling in Kenya with her boyfriend when she caught a glimpse of a "young god" in a crowd. Hofmann was determined to meet him and eventually did, only to realize that they didn't speak a common language. With her increasingly annoyed boyfriend as translator, she managed to get to know a little about this Masai warrior who would come to control her life. Hofmann endured some amazing challenges. This is a fascinating cultural study as well as an unusual love story.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 02/19/09
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This was the most generous biography I have ever read. Alan Alda writes so much more about the people in his life; his wife, children and colleagues, than he does about himself. When he does write about himself it is with merciless honesty. Although there are humorous moments, it is not overall a funny book. It is much more about finding out what your personal values are and how to connect with those around you. It is a touchingly human book that makes for a very pleasant and inspiring read.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 01/10/09
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Like Dr. Seuss for adults, Haroun and the Sea of Stories is a lyrical, elegantly written fantasy about a place where stories well up as a rainbow of soothing water to wash away the world's sorrows. Haroun is a young boy whose father is a master storyteller who loses his talents when his wife leaves him for another man. Haroun and his father go on a strange adventure to fight the evil shadow king, Kattam-Shud, who is polluting the Sea of Stories.
Although appropriate for teens and older children, this book has more than enough symbolism and profundity to satisfy adult readers. Rushdie presents a world of good and evil that seems very influenced by Hinduism. The heroes needn't destroy the evil, so much as bring it into balance. Respect for the environment and respect for stories and  human imagination are central themes to this novel. It isn't just good and evil and light and darkness that need to be balanced, it is also reality and fantasy. Haroun wants truth, while his father offers fiction. Until they can come together and balance each other out, they will never achieve the harmony necessary to entice Haroun's mother to return.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 12/05/08
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Stan Lauryssens started his career by writing phony celebrity interviews, and since he had concocted a few very convincing interviews with Salvador Dali people assumed he actually knew the artist. It wasn't long before Lauryssens began selling bogus Dalis to shady investors who needed to launder money. Dali and I is a fun and fascinating story of a world where nothing can be certain and everyone is trying to swindle someone else. The author paints Dali as a sadistic, money-hungry puppetmaster who exploits everyone even remotely involved with him for profit and amusement. This book explains the details of the Dali frauds and provides a healthy dose of juicy celebrity gossip. After doing time in a Spanish prison for forgery and fraud Lauryssens began writing crime fiction. This non-fiction book is as fast-paced and exciting as most mystery novels.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/13/08
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Frankie is a bright, attractive and very frustrated sophomore at an upscale prep school. When she finally starts dating the most sought after boy in the school, she can't believe her good luck. She feels empowered when she is accepted into his exclusive clique, but she soon realizes that her boyfriend and the others are keeping something from her; they are members of a secret society called the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds.
Her feelings for her boyfriend soon take a backseat to her anger over being shut out by people who are supposed to be her friends. With her quick wits and a few hints from British literature (i.e. P.G. Wodehouse) Frankie infiltrates the Bassetts and shows them what real boarding school pranking is all about. This is an excellent book for inspiring girls and young women to be more than is expected of them. Lockhart effectively captures the feelings and thoughts of a fifteen-year-old girl. This would make a wonderful mother-daughter book discussion choice.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/06/08
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The history of paint and dye pigments may sound a bit boring, but Victoria Finlay manages to combine technical information, fascinating trivia, art history and richly drawn accounts of her travels in this entertaining and unusual book. She addresses the significance of each color's symbolism in different cultures and at different time periods as she journeys to lapis lazuli mines tracing the source of ultramarine blue, or to indigo or saffron fields. Some of the most fascinating tales are of the pigments which are deadly poison, yet so sought after by artists even today. Finlay shows a keen insight into the creative mind as she analyzes the choices and attitudes artists have about such poisonous pigments as lead white and gamboge yellow. This book will still appeal to those who don't have a particular interest in art because of the quirky history trivia and the globe-trotting adventures. If nothing else, it is worth reading Color to find out what popular American beverage is colored with the blood of South American beetles.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 09/16/08
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In the People of the Whale a Native American leaves his Pacific Northwest reservation and his pregnant wife to fight in the Vietnam war. He is reported to be dead, but he has actually started a new life in a Vietnamese village. After ten years he returns to find his former wife in fierce opposition to the men of their tribe who want to hunt a whale for profit. The clash of tribal values and modern ways parallels the internal struggle of the soldier whose heart belongs on both sides of the world at once. Hogan deftly layers the symbolism of the ocean, the subconscious, the whale, war and many other universal issues. The people of the Whale carries a pervasive and powerful aching, indicative of the Native American experience. It's a story of pride and honor and of continuing life's journey in spite of losing everything one values.

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