March 6th, 2011

Skull - "vanitas"

February Reading: Books #5-8

5. William T. Close, M.D, Ebola: A Documentary Novel Of Its First Explosion, 404 pages, Africa, Paperback, 1991. Very interesting, not at all what I expected; a novelization of the people involved and their reactions, made even more fascinating since I have had family do medical missionary work in Zaire before this time. 4/5

6. Tony Hillerman, The Sinister Pig, 318 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 2003 (Navajo Mysteries, Book 16). Bernie Manuelito working the Mexican border patrol with a case that ties to her friends in the Navajo Police up north. 4/5

7. Tony Hillerman, Skeleton Man, 241 pages, Mystery, Hardback, 2004 (Navajo Mysteries, Book 17). Cowboy Dashee enlists the help of his friends to clear his cousin of jewel theft by searching for the man who gave him a diamond from the wreckage of a plane at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. 3.5/5.

8. Tony Hillerman, The Shape Shifter, 276 pages, Mystery, Hardback, 2006 (Navajo Mysteries, Book 18). The final book of the series, with Joe Leaphorn solving a mystery he thought solved from his days as a rookie. 3/5.
Dead Dog Cat

#19, 20

What with taking a day of mostly downtime, I managed to finish reading two books, yesterday (yes, I'm always reading more than one book at a time, so occasionally I'll finish two in quick succession).

The first book I read was off the Ematic reader, and it was Osprey Men-At-Arms #87: Napoleon's Marshals. The history of the rank as well as a list of these super-generals with illustrations made this an interesting read for me.

Secondly, I completed reading another book by an author I've mentioned recently. This was My Life in the NYPD: Jimmy the Wags ostensibly by James Wagner, but in small lettering is added "with Patrick Picciarelli". It's chock full of anecdotes about Wagner's time in the department, and ruminates on some of the political issues of his time there. It has some historical interest.

Books from January and February

So far I'm a little behind on my goal to read 60 books this year. I figure I can always cheat by reading lots of children's and young adult titles.

I discovered today on Amazon that it there are now "Choose Your Own" adventure-type books for the Kindle. They are low-cost and I'm sure I will enjoy the nostalgia.

1. How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming by Mike Brown: I got this book at a book signing. So I read an actual non-ebook with binding and paper and stuff. It's a great book. I highly recommend it. It is filled with the memories of how Mike Brown tediously (along with others) searched through the night sky looking for planets at the far reaches of the solar system. How he found an object 3X the mass of Pluto in the Kupier belt and knew that either this thing would have to be the 10th Planet OR that Pluto was dead.

2. Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans by Wendell Porter: A great look at the inner workings of the for-profit health insurance industry. Porter worked in public relations for several insurance companies and had to leave the industry because his job conflicted with his personal ethics. It was amazing to see this man's transformation from a

3. Half Empty by David Rakoff: I thought this book would be much better than it was. I guess I expected it to be Sedaris-esque. I'm not sure why though. I think my pre-conceived expectations for this book clouded my judgement. The book describes Rakoff's experience with the death of people close to him and his own recent cancer treatments.

4. The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie: That's right. Dr. House wrote a novel. It was pretty darn entertaining though I wouldn't call it fine literature or anything. It's a tongue in cheek spy novel (sort of).

5. The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages: I love books about linguistics but I found this one pissing me off. It was highly subjective. I found the descriptions of the languages, customs and lifestyles of various cultures fascinating. However, Harrison kept making claims that were either completely untestable or just out-right wrong. For instance, he claimed that if the Tuvans give up speaking their own language and start using Russsian exclusively, they would lose their ability to use specialized terminology about livestock. I think that's quite a tenuous assertion. If the Russian speaking Tuvans need that specialized language they will either import the Tuvan terminology or invent new Russian words.

6. Shimmeree (Serendipity Books) by Stephen Cosgrove: I love re-reading old children's literature. Although this is a quick read intended for new readers, it is beautifully written and illustrated. My sister purchased this book used, she remembered reading it as a child. It is likely that these Serendipity Books had quite an influence on her art. It is a real shame that these are out of print. Maybe I shouldn't have included it here as it isn't a novel or even an novella length book, but I wanted to put it in my reading list because I want to re-discover the books that made me love to read.

7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer: I re-read this children's book as well. I read the first three several years ago and I thought I'd like re-read the early titles before moving on. These are great books that are very imaginative. I hope children will be enjoying these stories for many years to come. Artemis Fowl is a pre-teen super-genius that is well on his way to becoming James Bond's future villain. Artemis uses his genius to threaten the fairies of the underworld and steal their gold. Never a dull moment. Why is there no film? It would make a great film. It should contain cameos from various James Bond villains.
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Book 15 for 2011

Disco for the Departed by Colin Cotterill. 260 pages

Third in the Dr Siri series. When a mummified arm is found protruding from a damaged concrete path in the city of Xam Neua, Dr Siri Paiboun and Nurse Dtui  are sent to investigate. The despicable Judge Haeng uses their absence as an opportunity to have Siri's morgue attendant, Mr Geung, assigned to a work gang and sent away.

Another visit to 1970s Laos as the communist regime is establishing itself there. I confess to knowing very little about Laos in general never mind in the 1970s, but allowing for that, the characters seem very real and believable. Reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith's Number One Ladies Detective Agency but with a bit of a harder edge and a more challenging plot. Like those books, reading this was like a visit to old friends.