September 27th, 2010

Brotherhood of the Wolf - Mani

Navajo Mysteries #3 & #4 By Tony Hillerman

32. Tony Hillerman, Listening Woman, 316 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 1978 (borrowed from the library).

The third book of the Navajo Mysteries finds Navajo Tribal Police Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn working very hard to avoid being the safety officer for a visiting Boy Scout troop. He looks into the death of Hosteen Tso and the assistant to Margaret Cigaret, also known as Listening Woman, while she was doing a listen to find the cure for his sickness. Add to that an old case of bank robbery with helicopter assistance and the appearance of a violent man with a huge dog, and there is danger that only Joe Leaphorn would show up in the middle of. It was a good book, and the ending was good, but it did leave me with some questions about how it would be wrapped up and explained in the police report.

33. Tony Hillerman, People of Darkness, 282 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 1980 (borrowed from the library).

The 4th book of the series introduces Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police. The case involves a wealthy uranium tycoon’s stolen box of personal mementos. The most obvious lead is the grandson of a past leader of the local peyote church. While searching for him, Chee meets Mary Landon, a teacher at the grade school. He takes Mary along on his searches for clues, partly because he likes her, partially because he is learning to understand white people in his personal conflict to join the FBI or become a singer for the Navajo, but mainly to protect her from a hired hit man who kills the thief and recovers the box, only to have Chee and Mary witness his escape. The key to this odd crime is an oil drilling accident many years earlier. I like Jim Chee as a character, and the book kept you moving quickly along to the finish.

Books 43 to 46

Book 43
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran - Rob Sheffield

Sheffield, a music journalist, wrote his first memoir about the death of his wife, as viewed through the mixed tapes he listened to with her and at the time. It was a mix of personal loss and common music that made it both poignant and solid.
The same can't quite be said about this follow-up, his homage to growing up in the 1980s as seen through various songs of the era. Each chapter is a reflection of his life as seen through one song. When it works, like his tangential ode to the cassingle, Sheffield shows he can be touching and clever at the same time.
Too often, though, it doesn't work, like his constant sorrow at being the geeky boy no girl would consider even as he drowns his whiny sorrows in, apparently, a not-too-boyish mix of Bonnie Tyler and Culture Club. He's trying, really trying, but he still comes off as that gawky teen in this uneven collection.

Book 44
The AutoImmune Epidemic - Donna Jackson Nakazawa

I read this investigation -- by a journalist with an autoimmune disease -- very, very slowly. I wanted to make sure I understood the science and the questions surrounding this quiet medical epidemic that counts more patients than cancer or heart disease.
It boils down to this:
Illnesses where the body attacks itself - autoimmune disorders range from lupus to MS to diabetes to Crohn's - are on the rise at an alarming rate.
Growing scientific evidence points to a modern stew triggering the onset: a genetic predisposition combined with heavy chemical loads in our body from where we live and what we eat and what products we use.
The author describes it quite cleverly as a barrel of rainwater, where a full barrel can overflow - or trigger an autoimmune response - from a seemingly single and simple trigger, such as exposure to a common virus or bacteria.
Medical research is ages behind in treatment, given such a wide array of causes and an industrial-sized battle to fight any supposition that man-made chemicals might be - gasp - really bad for us.
Thankfully, she ends with a list of things you can do to promote a healthy immune response and either stop the onset of a disease or temper the ail that comes.
It's not uplifting, but it's certainly a must read, especially if you or someone you care about has an autoimmune disorder.

Book 45
Flat, Hot and Crowded - Thomas Friedman

Fresh on the heels of reading about the environmental dangers to my health, I picked up Friedman's call for a green revolution.
He is not arguing for health, per se. Rather, he believes going green involves promoting green energy and coming to understand the true cost of being dependent on oil - financially and socially, given oil despots across the Middle East - and potential reward for inventing a new era.
It's an intriguing argument, one Friedman bolsters a bit too much, really. The massive book repeats itself several times, as if Friedman is trying to drum the ideas into our head like a song's chorus.
More time might have been spent on government initiatives that seem plausible and the security argument that follows his theory that oil prices and democracy are inversely related (that is, Russia was more free when oil prices were more low).
Droning on for too long almost does this otherwise great treatise in. Lost in some of the 400 pages is the clear case to be made against Bush's lost opportunity, of a gas tax after 9/11 for security purposes. Ditto the explanation about why biofuel is not any better than coal, and could be worse.
There is a forceful call for change in here. You just have to wade through some repetition to get it.

Book 46
Pure - Terra Elan McVoy

I fear this is what would happen if I ever wrote a book.
This book, about a group of teen girls who must deal with the ramifications of wearing purity rings now that they are in high school, is fine.
The writing is meandering but clear. The author has put a lot of effort into the characters, but they still don't ring true. The topic could be a hot-button issue, but the plot line is so haphazard, there's never a chance to become too invested in any one motion.
It's all a bit too sensible for a messy reality. And, I guess, that's fine. But it's not really good.

Book 49 - 52

Book 49: Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Plot: Bill has been kidnapped. Eric calls in a favour with the local werewolf pack in Shreveport in order for Sookie to be "protected" on her journey into Jackson, Mississipi. Of course, nothing could go wrong...
My thoughts: These books are just so much fun to read. I couldn't put it down!
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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Book 50: Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Plot: A coven of witches has come to Shreveport and it seems that they want ownership of Fangtasia...and Eric. Sookie finds Eric, naked, by the side of the road and her compassionate side leads her to shelter Eric in her house...
My thoughts: I laughed my ass off comparing Amnesiac Eric to Ruthless Eric.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

Whoo-hoo! Book 50!

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Book 51: Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Plot: Someone appears to have a grude against weres (both with and without a capital letter) and shifters. Then Sam is shot and it seems it is necessary for Merlotte's to borrow one of Fangtasia's bar staff...Now there are two vampires in Bon Temps...
My thoughts: Another excellent novel in The Southern Vampire Mysteries.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

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Book 52: Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
Plot: Sookie's cousin Hadley - the one who she thought was lost to the seedy world of drugs - was apparently the vampire consort to the Queen of Louisiana. When she dies, Sookie inherits her worldly goods AND is drawn into the vampiric intrigue at her court.
My thoughts: I do not like the King of Arkansas but I do like were-tigers.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

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52 / 50 words. 104% done!

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