>> Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I told you yesterday that I went a little picture taking crazy at the Oregon Coast Aquarium - here are a few more . . . .
I told you yesterday that I went a little picture taking crazy at the Oregon Coast Aquarium - here are a few more . . . .
Publication Date: 1985
Challenges: Medical Mystery 2008 Challenge #3
Kate Bennett is a pathologist at Boston’s Metropolitan Hospital. She’s got a lot going on. Her boss is getting ready to retire and wants to recommend Kate to take his place as department head. Her husband (who is a first class jerk) and his wealthy father want her to stay home and have babies and be a good wife who supports her husband’s political ambitions. Now she’s investigating the deaths of two young women who appear to have nothing in common other than the odd set of lab results. Throw in a prologue from Nazi Germany and some evil pharmaceutical company antics and you’ve got something that might be a movie of the week.
Neither the best nor the worst medical thriller I’ve read, but it was OK for a vacation book.
OK - so I went a little picture taking crazy today at The Oregon Coast Aquarium. We had a great time.
Sometimes the books section of my Sunday is just downright enjoyable. Such was the case today. I found a review of Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry which has me considering adding it to my TBR list.
Next I found a gem of an opinion piece by Brian Doyle entitled “The freedom of not reading a book to its mind-numbing finish.” As someone who has struggled to learn to let go of a book I wasn’t enjoying, this really caught my attention. A few quotes that really caught my eye (the full article is at the link).
Something we don't talk about much when it comes to books and reading is how almost all readers finally arrive at one crucial and telling moment, one that changes your reading style forever -- that instant when you realize you aren't going to finish the book you are diligently plowing through, and you don't have to finish it, and you can fling it off the porch with a sigh of relief, and that such flingitude does not mean you are an ignoramus.
Almost every reader achieves this moment of maturity -- and it is a remarkably freeing line to step over.
Of course, in many books slogging pays off wonderfully
I know only two people who still obsessively finish every book they begin, and in both cases I suspect they are the sort of people who organize the socks and underwear in their drawers by color and manufacturer and country of origin.
But after 10 pages I slowed, and 30 was work and by page 50 I found myself thinking I really should finish this . . . The word should, as you know, is a death rattle, for we never do what we should do, which is the secret to a great deal of human joy and pain.Ah that “I really should finish this” feeling. I admit to giving in to it and I also admit to having the courage to say ‘yes, I should but I don’t want to.’ I’m getting better at reminding myself that I cannot possibly read all the books out there that I might want to read someday, so what I really should do is put aside the ones I’m not enjoying and read as many as possible of the books I really do enjoy.
Publication Date: 2008
This is fiction that is clearly based on a real person. The heroine of the story is Haruko, who in the years following WWII, meets and eventually marries the Crown Prince of Japan. She becomes the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family. It’s definitely a very thinly disguised story of the current Empress of Japan, Empress Michiko. At least it is until the end which veers from reality (or does it?)
In some ways, this book reminded me of Memoirs of a Geisha, a female character written by a man and some wonderfully written passages. It was interesting and even good, but yet I still felt somewhat let down. I wanted it to be excellent and it didn’t take that leap for me. Schwartz does a good job of telling the story as Haruko looking back on her life. The Haruko who is telling the story is a woman who has lived many years in the restrained and incredibly structured and oppressive world of the Japanese Imperial family who really do live in a world apart.
It is said that one crosses the moat only once in a lifetime.
Series: #1 in the Lincoln Perry Series
Publication Date: 2004
Challenges: A-Z Reading #38 (K Author), TBR 2008 #10
When Investigator Wayne Weston is found dead in his home, and his wife and little girl are missing, his father hires private investigators Lincoln Perry and his partner Joe Pritchard. He wants two things, to first prove that Wayne didn’t commit suicide and second to find his granddaughter and daughter-in-law.
What starts out as a fairly run of the mill investigation soon builds into something much more complex. Lincoln and Joe are a pair of ex cops who are now private investigators. We learn early on that although Joe retired from the police department, Lincoln was forced out. The reason for that is one of the pieces of background that is revealed along the way as this mystery gets more and more intriguing. I liked that Lincoln and Joe were a good team and had some funny moments without it being all witty banter all the time. I liked how the characters and their backgrounds were developed throughout the novel rather than beginning with a quick history. It started out slowly and I wasn’t sure about it, at first. It had its flaws (for example a diary by a 5 year old??), but despite that lapse of believability it was still an entertaining enough read.
I first heard about this book from Joy, and although it’s taken me a while to get around to reading it, I’m glad I did and plan to read more of this series.
Publication Date: 2000
Challenges: Non-Fiction Five #6, A-Z Reading #37 (Q Title)
This biography of Queen Victoria has been on my TBR list for a while now. I’m very glad I finally read it. The subtitle “A Personal History” is accurate. This book doesn’t dig deep into the political side of her lengthy reign and legacy. This is very much about the woman herself and her relationships with her family, staff and government officials.
A lot of what is covered in the book I already knew, such as her devotion to her husband and her heartbreak after his death. I also knew of her legacy of marrying her children into most of the reigning houses of Europe at the end of the 19th century. I didn’t know that she and Prince Albert had some pretty severe quarrels – often continued in letters to each other. One of his letters speaks of his wanting to just get away and be by himself, but she continues to follow him and pursue the argument. I was surprised that she didn’t particularly like being pregnant or young children. Her relationships with her children were difficult ones, particularly her eldest son and heir.
Her relationships with her Prime Ministers and government officials are interesting – she often disliked a new Prime Minister only to despair at his leaving office a few years later. She was a woman of contradictions – often selfish and difficult, she also loved and cared deeply about others. She loved to dance and laugh and there is one picture in the book of her smiling (which I had never seen before).
The first part of the book is, for the most part, a chronological telling of her life up to the death of Prince Albert. The second part is less chronological and the chapters are more topics considered in regard to the remainder of her reign (such as Sons, Daughters, Holidays Abroad, etc.) Hibbert touches on her relationship with John Brown, and concludes that it’s unlikely that it was a romantic one.
I enjoyed this biography, but would like to read more about her someday. There is so much to her life and reign that it’s difficult to cover in one book.
We were up in Trout Lake this past weekend and decided to play tourist on the way home and take a few pictures. This is Mt. Adams from the Trout Lake School - this is currently the staging area for the firefighters battling the Cold Springs fire - which you can see the early stages of here.
The White Salmon River - that's Husum Falls just under the bridge - lots of whitewater rafters out the day we were there.
Mt. Hood from the north side - it's not the view I'm used to from Portland, the mountain always looks not quite right to me when I'm not looking at the west side of it.
If you look close you can see the remains of a very old wooden log flume from back in the height of the logging days. It's hard to see because I had to have the camera on maximum zoom to get the picture.
Always stop at the historical markers (forever known as hysterical markers in my family). You can learn all kinds of interesting things.
For example - that sometimes it gets a bit windy in the Columbia River Gorge.
Just outside of Stevenson, We saw this bald eagle on it's nest. There must be babies or eggs in there because it didn't stay away from the nest for very long.
Beacon Rock. There's a trail to the top and the views of the gorge are amazing on a clear day. I haven't climbed it in years, but maybe this fall if we can get a clear day that's not too warm.
I posted this:
I had decided that it might be interesting to put my notes about my books on a blog. It would be a fun thing for me to have as a record and maybe a link to give to a few friends when they asked if I had any book recommendations.
I wasn’t sure exactly where this book blog was headed, but I’ve certainly had a great time on the journey for the past two years.
I’ve managed to meet so many fellow readers. I was shocked at extent of the book blogging community I found. When I think of all the things that this blog has led me to the list is long. The first and most important is a whole new and expanded circle of reading friends all over the world. By getting to know other readers from their blogs and book reviews I’ve made some connections that extend beyond books and reading.
But, I shoud get back to books and reading and all the things I wouldn’t have without this blog and the book blogging community.
Of course, I should probably mention that there’s also the time I spend not reading my books now because I’m reading all your blogs. That list of blogs that are in my Google feed reader over there on the right is what keeps me busy online nearly every day. If your blog is on that list, I’m reading it. I may not comment a lot, but I’m reading.
If you’re reading this – thanks! I never expected you to be here, but I’m really glad you are. You're a great big bunch of enablers and I love you for it.
As for why I haven’t posted any new review in a while, it’s because I’m about halfway through Queen Victoria: A Personal History. It’s a bit of a chunkster and will take me a while, but it’s interesting and I’m enjoying it.
We take our beer seriously here in Portland. July is Oregon Craft Beer Month, culminating with the Oregon Brewers Festival the last weekend of the month. It's easy to plan for future visits. It's always the last full weekend of July.
Turns out that even George Will is onto the importance of beer. His column earlier this week explains how beer is health food.
No beer, no civilization.
The development of civilization depended on urbanization, which depended on beer. To understand why, consult Steven Johnson's marvelous 2006 book, "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World." It is a great scientific detective story about how a horrific cholera outbreak was traced to a particular neighborhood pump for drinking water. And Johnson begins a mind-opening excursion into a related topic this way:
"The search for unpolluted drinking water is as old as civilization itself. As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public-health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol."
Often the most pure fluid available was alcohol -- in beer and, later, wine -- which has antibacterial properties.
Once again, earplugs have saved my husband's life.
Series: #2 in the Dr. Peter Zak Series
Publication Date: 2001
Challenges: Medical Mystery 2008 Challenge #2
Dr. Peter Zak is a psychologist who works at The Pearce Psychiatric Center. He is the one who discovers the body of one his colleagues and her troubled teenage daughter holding the gun. His efforts to help the daughter and to find the truth about his friend’s death are an interesting and quick read. This second in the series definitely held my attention and kept me turning the pages. A few of my guesses as I was reading turned out to be correct, but a few ended up being red herrings.
I enjoy this psychological thriller type of book. G.H. Ephron is actually the team of Hallie Ephron and Dr. Donald Davidoff. I’ll be continuing with this series. The recurring characters and their struggles with their own issues takes a bit of a back seat to the current mystery in this one, but the continuation of their stories is well done along the way.
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Publication Date: 2006
Read by: Jim Dale
This is the second in the Peter Pan prequel series written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Pirates, Indians, kidnappings, Starstuff, Peter, Tinkerbell, The Lost Boys, Captain Hook, etc. etc. etc. The adventure continues and this time the evil villain is really evil. He’s a creepy inhuman creature named Lord Ombra who is some sort of combination of vampire and the smoke monster from Lost. Don’t let him touch your shadow or you’re doomed.
Jim Dale does a fabulous job of reading this. His character voices are amazingly varied and add a lot to the story.
At least Anne Taintor and Celia Rivenbark understand . . .
Series: #1 in the Sarah Booth Delaney series
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: 1999
Challenges: A-Z Reading #36 (T Title)
This one could also count for the Southern Reading Challenge, but I’m sticking with my original list for that one. I first heard of this series just a week or so ago when my very favorite Montgomery, Alabama bookstore sent out a notice about a booksigning by the author. I checked into the series and decided to give it a try.
Sarah Booth Delaney is 30 something, unwed, unemployed, about to lose her family home. She’s also hounded by (because that’s a more accurate description than haunted by) the ghost of her great great grandmother’s nanny. The ghost, Jitty, is a hoot. For some reason she’s into lat 60’s and early 70’s fashion. She’s also concerned about Sarah keeping Dahlia House.
From the book cover:
I shouldn’t have listened to that ghost . . .This is pure light cozy mystery with a fun poke at Southern Society in Zinnia, Mississippi. Sarah is unconventional for a Southern Belle, and I liked her a lot (although she’s a bit obsessed with her womb). The mystery was about a 20 year old possible murder and the cast of characters included some fun quirky folks.
If only I hadn’t kidnapped the dog . . .
But the ransom paid the mortgage . . .
Now I seem to be a private eye . . .
It was light fun and a quick read. I’ll probably read more of the series someday.