Showing posts with label j maarten troost. Show all posts
Showing posts with label j maarten troost. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (33)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. peripatetic. "That this occurred I think is less a tribute to the peripatetic colonial officers, who were ordered to administer both the Gilbert and Ellice Islands without the Colonial Office actually providing them with a boat..."   

adjective
1. walking or traveling about; itinerant.
2. (with capital letter) of or pertaining to Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.
3. (with capital letter) of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy.
noun
4. a person who walks or travels about.
5. (with capital letter) a member of the Aristotelian school.

For some reason I thought this word had to do with being frustrated or angry.  So this is definitely a new one for me.

2. paroxysm. "Wilson, however, perhaps unaware of the aching sincerity of the I-Kiribati, decided to pass on his sample poem and a letter from the president's personal secretary to Punch, a satirical rag moving ever further from its illustrious past, and this was followed by a media paroxysm that lasted for a full one-day news cycle."

noun
1. any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion: paroxysms of rage.
2. (in pathology) a severe attack or sudden increase in intensity of a disease, usually recurring periodically.

I'd heard this one before but couldn't pin down the exact meaning.

3. pugnacious. "He has grown very fond of the mynah birds nesting on the roof and as a result I have called a truce with the pugnacious creatures."
adjective
inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.

I guessed this one based on its context--good fit.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (32)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. louvers. "Instead of glass windows there were plastic horizontal louvers, plus security wire."   

noun
1. any of a series of narrow openings framed at their longer edges with slanting, overlapping fins or slats, adjustable for admitting light and air while shutting out rain.
2. a fin or slat framing such an opening.
3. a ventilating turret or lantern, as on the roof of a medieval building.
4. any of a system of slits formed in the hood of an automobile, the door of a metal locker, etc., used especially for ventilation.
5. a door, window, or the like, having adjustable louvers.

The definition that included the bit about metal lockers illustrated this well for me.  Sounds like a fancy French word!

2. favelas. "In this environment, the odd mixture of Robinson Crusoe-like isolation combined with the favelas of Rio, good eating was hard to find." 

noun
a shantytown in or near a city, especially in Brazil; slum area.

Favelas sounds like a more...fun word to me.  Guess I was wrong about that!

3. obstreperous. "'The I-Kiribati said okeydokey, possibly because Davis immediately banned trade in guns and alcohol, and soon went so far as to banish the more obstreperous missionaries..." 
adjective
1. resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly.
2. noisy, clamorous, or boisterous: obstreperous children.

This is one of those words I would love to throw into random conversation with my coworkers, and see who understands it.

What are your new words this week?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Showers Bring May Awesomes. (April 2013 in Review)


So April was a pretty awesome month.  Mostly because of the weather.  My pasty-pale self is now becoming pasty-pale with a scattering of freckles, which must mean the sun has arrived in Upstate New York.  If only all my freckles would meld together, I would be blessed with the most luscious tan.  Ah, the life of a ginger.

Also, my lil (not so lil anymore) brother got engaged this month!  I am wicked excited for him and his fiancee (who has received the Big Sister Seal of Approval).  Let the wedding plans begin!

As per usual in my monthly recaps, I will also grace you with a photo of Sir Small Fry.  He was very serious about his outdoor play time this month:
Obviously Mother has done something for which she should feel ashamed.
Now, enough about me, onward to the book-related goodness!  Apparently the warm weather led to less reading and more outdoor time, because my reading/posting pace was a little slower.

The April 2013 Fave/Least Fave choices were difficult, and honestly, my "least" fave shouldn't be read as being a "bad" book...it's just the one I gave the lowest rating to on Goodreads (a 3-star, by the way).

March 2013 Favorite: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
March 2013 Least Favorite: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Found Objects by Peter Gelfan
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Weelicious by Catherine McCord
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J Maarten Troost

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury.

In other book talk, I was one of the first features on Book Bloggers International, we took a trip down my college-era memory lane, and I told you all the topics that, if melted together, would create my ultimate read.

May is going to be a busy month around here--we're getting a new roof put on today, and Small Fry is getting ear tubes inserted tomorrow, so already we're off with a bang.  But May is also my engagement anniversary (awww).  And, let's not forget that Mother's Day is coming up.  YOU'RE ON NOTICE, HUSBAND.  Fine jewels and massages as far as the eye can see!  (Or at least the ability to sleep past 6am.)

Have a great month!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Book Review: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost



Title: The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
Author: J. Maarten Troost
Publisher: Broadway
Publication Date: June 8, 2004
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).

With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years—one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.


My Review:

The region of interest for this month's Around the World Challenge is the South Pacific islands.  I've read several rather serious books for my ATWC selections in previous months, so I figured April was a good time to try a new tone.  Thus, this entertaining travel memoir, set in the far-off island of Kiribati.

Before reading this, the only reason that I had heard of Kiribati (pronounced kir-ee-bas) was because I've played a lot of sporcle.com geography quizzes that require you to know the names of all 197 countries in the world. (Yes, I know them, and I can list them alphabetically, because as you would expect, I'm a little bit of a freak.)  However, beyond the name, I knew nothing.  I mean, what was there to know?  My picture of the South Pacific was largely based on my friend's honeymoon photos in Fiji: gorgeous beaches, crystalline waters, beautiful weather at all times, and lots of quaint oversea huts.  That's it, yes?

Apparently, no.  Maarten Troost and his girlfriend Sylvia trekked to Kiribati for 2 years while Sylvia worked for a government agency.  That two years was full of rabid dogs, feces-infested waters, and drought...rather unlike those Fijian photos of my mind.  Luckily, Troost took the entire experience in stride (quite unlike how I might have done), and wrote this lively memoir to commemorate it.

I got sucked into Troost's narrative right away, as he has a lighthearted and sarcastic writing style that I immediately enjoyed.  He has no problem poking fun at the many (many, many) mishaps that he and his girlfriend endured before, during, and after their time in the tiny Kiribati town of Tarawa.  I think the humor was important here, because in reality, Kiribati is rundown and quite full of poverty--a situation that could easily lower the tone of the memoir.  But I think Troost did a nice job of illustrating Kiribati's economic difficulties in between the humor, without making light of the country's problems.

Troost does also offer some historical chapters, which give you a lot of important background about the island's colonial roots.  He continues the humor in those sections too, which keeps the emphasis from changing too much throughout the book.  I will say that the last 30 pages or so of their time in Tarawa started to drag for me as a reader.  I almost felt like Troost started running low on funny anecdotes, and some of those final sections began to feel like filler.  However, it picked up again when he and Sylvia left Tarawa, leading to a well-crafted ending...one that makes me curious to check out some of the follow-up memoirs that Troost has penned.

Overall, if you enjoy travel memoirs that don't take themselves too seriously, this is a great choice.  (Bill Bryson fans?  This may be a good one for you.)  While I did find a few slow parts towards the end, as a whole this book manages to be both funny and informative...and I like my information funny, when possible.  (Seriously, history textbooks, where are you on this?)

Other reviews of The Sex Lives of Cannibals:
Reading Through Life
Small World Reads
The Book Lady's Blog

Have you read any travel memoirs lately?  Especially humorous ones?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cannibals and Coasties and Cooking, oh my...


Hope you all had a great weekend!  What's everybody reading today?


I'm a busy reader these days.  Here's what I'm steeped in right now:

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life). (from Goodreads)

I'm reading this for April's Around The World challenge (South Pacific), and LOVING it.  It's a hilarious travel memoir that's teaching me a lot about an area of the world I am unfamiliar with.  Oh, you thought all islands of the South Pacific were idyllic gems like Fiji?  Not so much.  Troost's travelogue is leaving me in stitches and I can't wait to review it.

Frozen In Time by Mitchell Zuckoff

On November 5, 1942, a U.S. cargo plane on a routine flight slammed into the Greenland ice cap. Four days later, a B-17 on the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on the B-17 survived. The U.S. military launched a second daring rescue operation, but the Grumman Duck amphibious plane sent to find the men flew into a severe storm and vanished.

In this thrilling adventure, Mitchell Zuckoff offers a spellbinding account of these harrowing disasters and the fate of the survivors and their would-be saviors. Frozen in Time places us at the center of a group of valiant airmen fighting to stay alive through 148 days of a brutal Arctic winter by sheltering from subzero temperatures and vicious blizzards in the tail section of the broken B-17 until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen attempts to bring them to safety.
But that is only part of the story that unfolds in Frozen in Time. In present-day Greenland, Zuckoff joins the U.S. Coast Guard and North South Polar--a company led by the indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza, who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck's last flight--on a dangerous expedition to recover the remains of the lost plane's crew.  (from Goodreads)

I'm at the beginning of this book, and already HOOKED.  I'm a bit of a Coast Guard groupie (both my brother and stepbrother currently serve) so this historical account of a World War II search-and-rescue mission is fascinating to me.  Plus, I love that the author got involved in the more recent search for one of the planes that was never found.  Adds a unique twist the story.

Weelicious by Catherine McCord

After her son was born in 2007, Catherine McCord sought out resources to teach her how to prepare fresh, healthy, appealing meals for young kids—but she came up empty. With culinary school under her belt and a hungry baby to feed, Catherine started Weelicious.com, a website that has since grown into a comprehensive offering of kid-friendly family meals.

Complete with beautiful color photos, tips and tools, lists of pantry staples, feeding plans, and more than seventy new recipes never before seen on Weelicious .com, Weelicious makes it easy to get kids eating healthy foods from their first bite. Catherine teaches parents how to turn their kids into great eaters who appreciate food and are open to exciting new flavors.  (from Goodreads)


You guys know I love Small Fry to pieces.  He's the shizzle.  But seriously, one of the hardest things IN LIFE is trying to feed him.  He is the world's pickiest eater, hands down.  I have been on a desperate quest for the last year to find foods that will appeal to him (other than PB&J and fruit...which in themselves are not terrible, but a good diet they do not make).  I heard amazing things about Weelicious and decided to give it a try.  It's been an interesting journey.  I only have the book for 2 more days from the library, so will soon be reviewing it and sharing my saga with you...

And my audiobook is still Don't Go by Lisa Scottoline--should be finishing up this week!

What will be coming up next?
The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan.  I've been trying really hard to delay this awesomeness until close to its release date, and that is quickly coming upon us, so this is next in my queue!  Others on the horizon include Jordan Freeman Was My Friend by Richard White (for this month's Keyword Challenge: friend), The Midwife's Revolt by Jodi Daynard (for an upcoming book tour) and Fly Away by Kristin Hannah (ARC that I'm pretty excited to review).

What are you reading this week, friends?
 
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