Fighting For Your Life, Man-eater Bears by Tom Hron

Dear Cousin Johnny,

Thank you for giving me this book to read.  I now know that if things really go poorly I should attempt to punch a black bear that is trying to eat me (or my friend/family member) in the nose.  Since I’m hoping it won’t come to that I’m now considering getting a larger dog, baseball bat, machete and stun gun to bring with me in the woods – just in case- oh and I promise not to forget my binoculars. Also after learning that grizzly bears enjoy flattening and shredding nylon tents I may never go camping much less hiking in certain areas again. My Dad painted a vivid enough picture of polar bears for me that I wasn’t planning on spending my vacation with one anytime soon but just in case his stories were fading in memory I now have some new ones to reinforce them with.

Thank you as well for the nightmare this book gave me. I had accidentally fallen asleep in Clara’s bed and that got me right back up and into my own bed. You know, the one with my husband who has a longer reach than me and would be better at beating a bear with a bat or punching it in the nose than I would.  And I certainly can’t forget to thank you for introducing me to a huge amount of graphic, horrific, descriptions of people who were eaten alive by bears. I shall never forget what a bear can do, ever… even if I want to.

Finally thank you for giving me a book to read that made me laugh. Because if I’m going to read about graphic bear deaths I do truly prefer it to be with a good dose of sarcasm and contempt for those who ignore “traditional knowledge and wisdom”…  “for the sake of computer modeling by a bunch of pinheads who have never set foot on the pack ice.”

In Gratitude,

Jessie

Would I recommend it? Bears: They don’t just eat nuts and berries, sometimes they eat people.  There was quite a lot of useful and interesting information but it is certainly not for the faint of heart!

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini (and Chukar Hunting)

This book was fine.

Woman chef becomes hunter in order to truly participate in her omnivorous life.

Pretty good stories, good looking recipes but one thing really bothered me.

The chukar.

Georgia shoots her chukar at a Texas game ranch where “…an olive brown figure rises from the left, only 10 yards in front and, crosses my path in a diagonal leap skyward.”

She who has never tasted a chukar gets her bird, and life is good. I bet she even remembers how it tastes.

I have also been chukar hunting.

It was a bit different than that.

My Dad, brother and cousin Johnny all went chukar hunting in Nevada a few years ago. After lots and lots of driving we arrived and it was beautiful.

We parked the truck down along the river.

Until I realized that I had to hike up all that beauty.

See here is the thing, the locals don’t call them “Dirty Rotten Bastards” without due cause. Chukars hang out on the side of the mountain until they see you coming, then they run – straight – up – the – mountain. When they reach the top they no doubt do a few chukar high fives before the Dirty Rotten Bastards laugh and fly down the other side of the mountain. 

I don’t run up mountains as fast as a chukar, my game vest stayed empty.

After a few days of hunting we got smarter and learned what the birds ( I mean Dirty Rotten Bastards) were flying to and we were able to set up hunts so that they flew down our side of the mountain. That sounds like it should be much better, and it was. All you had to do was stop upward movement on a 45 degree, rocky, snow covered slope, pivot outward to be facing the flying birds and then attempt to stop gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air so as to steady your gun and get a shot off.

My game vest still stayed empty.

Then I’d watch and watch as the unscathed bastards would fly off, mark where they went down, hike back down my mountain and get ready to chase them up the next one. It was fantastic in a masochistic sort of way.

Fortunately not everyone was as bad a shot as I was and we were able to eat chukar for dinner at night.

Unlike Georgia I do not remember how it tastes.

I was so tired by the end of the day it’s possible I would have thought cardboard a delicious dinner.

Tyler (who can kill a chuckar) and dogs along ridge.

As the local mountain lion hunter told us, you go Dirty Rotten Bastard hunting the first time for fun, the next times are all revenge.

And now that I have my own bird dog and know that I have to pretend I’m training for a marathon before I leave, I can’t wait until I have an opportunity to get my revenge.

Hopefully I’ll even remember how it tastes.

Would I recommend the book? I go bird hunting because I like the hunting. Figuring out what the birds are eating, where they will be and when, watching the dogs work the field (or mountain) and maybe if I’m lucky being able to fill my game vest with something tasty for dinner. I’d rather hike up and down mountains while puzzling out how it all works with friends or family than be certain of finding game on a managed property with a guide.

The author is a hunter to find out where her food came from, participate in the harvest and cook great food. I think what she does is admirable, I think her stories are good and I’m glad she wrote a book about it, I just can’t broadly recommend it as a hunting book. It’s not my kind of hunting.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Since I am one of those with a daughter who inexplicably loves all things princess I couldn’t resist the title of this book. The author covers topics ranging from the Disney princesses, the color pink and child beauty pageants to internet use and violent fairy tales. I didn’t always completely agree with where she was coming from but the book had enough food for thought to make up for it.

Would I recommend it? If you’ve got girls, it’s an interesting, if frightening look at how our current culture affects them. But please see my Screamfree Parenting review for my full reasons on why I will not be recommending any sort of parenting books.

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond

Have you visited The Pioneer Woman‘s website? She makes me want to eat large amounts of food, take better pictures, laugh a lot, and add a few more kids and dogs to my life. In addition to her very active blog she also writes books, first a cookbook and now this one:

Black Heels to Tractor Wheels is her and her husbands own true love story.  It’s funny, in a neurotic, cute, lovable sort of way.

Would I recommend it? Yes, although if you’ve read all her website there isn’t too much new here though it is fun to read it all at once.

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

This book just wasn’t quite what I expected.

Which begs the question of just what was I expecting from “an unconventional memoir” of “how two Manhattanites became gentlemen farmers.”

I think the answer to that is that I was expecting more farming and less about the balancing act of relationships and life in general. Then I was disappointed and didn’t feel like being all introspective.

Then I found out that one of the men worked for Martha Stewart, in the words of my friend Katie, “Hilarious.”

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was funny, and introspective and it’ll do you good to read about gay farmers.

No. It was at times laugh out loud funny but at the end of the day it is a book about gay men (one an ex-drag queen) who start a small farm.  I think the nich of people who would enjoy such a book is too small to give it a full recomendation.

Heck, I’ve got no idea if anyone should read this, but I admit, I mostly liked it. If you want a peek at their lives you can check out their website here: http://beekman1802.com maybe it’ll help you decide!

Obama Zombies by Jason Mattera

Well, it’s not much of a secret what my political views are if I read a book subtitled “How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation.”

So, if you are already offended by the title no pressure to read the rest.

Of course it may make you feel slightly better to know I don’t recommend it.

On second thought I agreed with all the content, just not the delivery, so perhaps that’s not a positive for you after all.

Oh well, strike me from the Christmas card list if you must but here goes my little review…

This was book full of interesting comments and facts delivered in a completely obnoxious way.  It had  information on how the Obama campaign was run and the excellent job they did at attracting the youth vote, stuff that I was only vaguely aware of from this rock I live under. Unfortunately the author presents it in a yelly (yes I know this isn’t a word but I like it anyway), sarcastic, rude sort of way.  It’s one thing to read a quote or a comment and hear Mattera’s rebuttal of it, in fact much of that was well done and even amusing. Unfortunately then he would start “yelling” in the book as if he were talking to that person. I’m not a big fan of being yelled at as if I agree with the “Obama Zombies,” it was a complete turn off. For instance a section titled  “Piss Off a Liberal: Get a Job, Make Money, and Be Happy” had me laughing out loud until I read: “We need rick folks, idiots! Who the hell do you think cuts your paycheck?”  That pretty much sealed the deal for me,  thanks Jason, have a nice day, and next time you write a book try not to yell at the people reading it who agree with you!

Would I recommend it? No, there’s got to be better sources for the same information.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

The cover of the book says “One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.”

Good thing too, it was the grumpiness that made the book.  This grumpy author travels to ten countries and shares what he learns  in chapters with titles like:

“Switzerland – Happiness Is Boredom”

“Iceland – Happiness Is Failure”

and

“Moldova – Happiness Is Somewhere Else”

Had this book been written by some positive thinking, sickly sweet personality, the world is a wonderful place and I’m a wonderful person,  ( yes Eat, Pray Love, I’m thinking of you) it would have been a total failure. Fortunately Eric Weiner is an unhappy grump, (his words not mine) and so what could have been a nauseating topic turns out to be amusing and informative.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It’s also full of interesting facts. Did you know the smiley face was invented in 1963 to cheer up workers at an insurance company? 🙂

The Farfarers by Farley Mowat

After finally finishing this book my only overwhelming feeling is…

HA!

Perhaps final conquest isn’t the best of reviews…

Parts of the book I found completely fascinating and surprisingly, for lack of a better term, relevant. I’d have thought that a book about the first Europeans that may have made it to North America (predating the Norse) and the why’s and hows of how they got here would be information that would be filed away in my brain as interesting but mostly useless and ultimately forgotten.  As it has turned out I’ve found relate-able material  in all sorts of areas since I started reading it. After all when you span Scandinavia to Newfoundland from 5000 bc to the 1400’s that’s a lot of history and  a lot land covered, I guess it’s bound to come up somewhere!

On the down side the book has a tendency to be a bit of a dry history book at times. Contrasting this was a fictional account following a group of people, the Farfarers, as Mowat takes you through the times. I expected this part to be much better than it was,  and it turned out that that was my least favorite part of the book.  As more of a glimpse of what life was like than an actual story line  I found it just to be annoying. Also it had a tendency to be ridiculously graphically violent for no apparent reason. I never need to read descriptions about heads being chopped in two, ever.

Would I recommend it? Not for the average evening read but if you’ve any interest in this part of history or even seafaring history in general, it’s an interesting worthwhile read. However I would not recommend you leave it in your child’s room and read it while nursing her to sleep, this will cause it to be read in snippets over a ridiculously long period of time so that when you finish it all you’ll have to say is…

HA!

Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel

I don’t read very many parenting books, but this one kept cropping up everywhere so I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about.  I admit I did not read this slowly and thoughtfully while answering all the “reflection questions” at the end of the chapters, it was more of a skimming, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, hmm that’s interesting, sort of read.

My issue with reading it was my own avoidance of parenting books problem, it breaks down something like this:

one part,”I’m doing just fine thank you very much,”

one part  “If I read all the parenting books, I’ll probably start thinking that I need to do everything different, they will all say different things and then I will go insane which would have the opposite effect I was hoping for.”

and one part “I’m half Finnish and I don’t think that half of me is interested in reflecting on my inner feelings, thank you have a nice day.”

I read it anyway, and tried to stifle my eye rolling on the bold texts that said things like,

“Pain is often the greatest catalyst to powerful change.”

and

“Screamfree Parenting is not a problem-solving or behavioral modification model; it is a growth model.”

Not that these things aren’t true, it’s just that my aversion to books like this was in control of my eyeballs.

My point, I did have one…

This was better than I thought.  For the most part I liked what he said (it helped that I also do/believe many of the things already) and it did give me some stuff to ponder in daily life with my three year old. Hopefully my Finnishness will subside and I can even implement a bit of it. And I liked the basic message of the book. While the author multiple times mentions his disapproval for “what works for fideo will work for your kid”  type books, I’d say, what I took out of it sounded an awful lot like Caesar Milan. The dog whisperer and this guy have the same basics.  Calm assertive pack leader and calm consistent parent aren’t too different when you get right down to it.  I know it works on the dogs, I’ve seen it help with the kids, but knowing it will help and actually being calm are not always the same thing!

Would I recommend it? I’m not recommending any parenting books. Not because how I feel but because what you want to read in that area is completely up to you, I’d hate to add to any insanity (see avoidance issues above).

Death In A Lonely Land by Peter Hathaway Capstick

I’d just like to say right now that I have absolutely no desire to go hunting for anything that has earned it’s reputation as a man eater or even anything that could possibly do so in the future. I do not want to go hunting animals that may attempt to eat me before I eat them. I do not want to hunt animals that don’t want to eat me but would be satisfied with stomping me into a pulp. I really don’t want to go hunting for something that would like to pound me into a pulp and then eat me afterward with nothing but a few dogs and a really big knife.  Yet, for some reason I love reading about people who do.

Maybe I’m nuts, or maybe it is that Capstick is an especially engaging author, pick up something of his and let me know!

Would I recommend it? Yes.  This book of his is not all big game hunting, it also has fishing, some discussions on firearms and ammo, (now I want a fully automatic BB gun, and that’s not something I ever expected to say) and bit of bird hunting.  While the variety of topics is nice the benefits of using a tube fly for salmon just don’t have the same memorable qualities as a “Midnight Date With A Black Jaguar!”