April 30th, 2011

Dead Dog Cat


This morning, I finished reading a very large volume of biography that I started late last year. It's Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with his Century: Volume 1: Learning Curve 1907 - 1948, which deals with his life from birth (well, actually, before his birth) through his wedding with his third wife, Virginia. The first few chapters dragged, probably due to lack of material, and the lack of surviving folk from that era, but once he got to Annapolis and thereafter, it read very well, and zipped along. Obviously, there'll be more volumes, and I'll be watching for them.

Books 15 & 16

"Memory of Fire: Genesis" by Eduardo Galeano

I don’t know to what literary form this voice of voices belongs. Memory of Fire is not an anthology, clearly not; but I don’t know if it is a novel or essay or epic poem or testament or chronicle or . . . Deciding robs me of no sleep. I do not believe in the frontiers that, according to literature’s customs officers, separate the forms.
I did not want to write an objective work—neither wanted to nor could. There is nothing neutral about this historical narration. Unable to distance myself, I take sides; I confess it and am not sorry. However, each fragment of this huge mosaic is based on a solid documentary foundation. What is told here has happened, although I tell it in my style and manner.

Forty pages of creation myths are followed by many short chapters from less than a page to a couple of pages in length, each headed by the date and place and describing one event and adding another piece to the jigsaw that is the history of the Americas. Sources are given for each chapter, and as well as books written by historians, Galeano has used lots of primary sources, written by people who were actually there. This gives the book a really immediate quality, full of the wonders of this new world, which may not have contained the expected cities made of gold, but did have strawberries and pineapples, rain forests, jaguars and turtles, and of course chocolate.

This volume, which covers the years 1492 to 1700 mostly covers Latin America and the Caribbean since they were the first to be colonised by Europeans, but there are some references to events in North America. Very few Spaniards come out of this book with any credit., but there are a few, Bartolomé de las Casas and Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca among them.

I bought this book after seeing several rave reviews online, and found this unique book a marvellous introduction to the history of an area I didn't know much about.

"One Last Breath" by Stephen Booth

'It will use a lot of resources manning the phones and checking on sightings,' said Hitchens. 'But we need the help of the public. We've got to catch this man before he strikes again.'
'Strikes again?' said Jepson. 'Are you writing headlines for the newspapers these days, Hitchens? Have you taken a sub-editor's course at the Derbyshire Times? Are you going to start talking in words of one syllable?'
'Sorry, chief. I meant, we're gathering community-based intelligence in our efforts to establish the location of the principal suspect prior to a recurrence of his offending behaviour.'

A murderer is released from prison. The terms of his release don't allow him to return home to the Hope Valley, but he doesn't turn up at the hostel in Burton on Trent, and then his ex-wife is murdered. This is the start of a convoluted tale of murder and retribution, whose twists and turns lead up to an ambiguous ending.

When I was a child, British Rail used to run Ramblers' Specials from Nottingham to the Hope Valley on bank holidays, so I have walked between Hope, Hathersage and the other stations on the Hope Valley Line, and one bank holiday we walked up to Castleton, climbed the hill up to Peveril Castle and queued for the boat trip through Speedwell Cavern. I think I have been into one of the other caves too, but I don't remember seeing the ropemaker's houses, so I don't think it can have been Peak Cavern.

I liked the fact that I could visualise the scenery and Quinn's movements, and I found the parts set in the caves spooky and claustrophobic. So it was quite enjoyable overall.
did you know you could fly?

(no subject)

Book #25 -- Joan Bauer, Peeled, 248 pages.

Everyone in Banesville knows the Ludlow House is haunted. But when even more strange things start happening than usual, Banesville is suddenly on the map as one of the most haunted towns in New York. But something more sinister is going on in Banesville than can be attributed to Old Man Ludlow's ghost. The Mayor's acting cagey, strange men have been bullying landowners, and an unscrupulous developer from Boston has shown up looking like Christmas has come early. And with the local newspaper only feeding the fires of fear, high school reporter Hildy Biddle may be the only one who can get to the bottom of this all-too-human conspiracy.

This is a wonderful look at how the media can be used (or misused) to influence public opinion, and the insidious nature of fear-mongering.

Book #26 -- Carrie Vaughn, Steel, 294 pages.

Jill Archer is a teen fencing champion, still stinging from a recent defeat. But when she finds a rusted rapier point in the Bahama sand and is transported back to when the blade was new -- the 16th century Carribbean - Jill realizes that fencing tournaments are nothing like fighting for your life. Pressed into service to pirate queen Marjorie Cooper, Jill must learn the harsh ways of the sea - and stay alive long enough to find her way home.

What can I say - fencing and *pirates* This book was written for me. One of the most enjoyable reads I've read in awhile.

Book #27 -- Rebecca Godfrey, The Torn Skirt: A Novel (P.S.), 199 pages.

This one I'm afraid I really couldn't get into. This first-person story of a confused young girl wantonly chasing her own self-destruction just didn't ring true to me, but that could just be because I've never really felt the urge to fuck up my own life like that.

Progress toward goals: 120/365 = 32.9%

Books: 27/100 = 27.0%

Pages: 8092/30000 = 27.0%

2011 Book List

cross-posted to 15000pages, 50bookchallenge, and gwynraven
El Corazon

45. The Bookwoman's Last Fling

The Bookwoman's Last Fling
by John Dunning

Started: April 22, 2011
Finished: April 28, 2011

I had issues with this book. The book connection was tenuous at best and I just don't think the actual mystery was that strong. Plus all of Dunning's characters sound exactly the same in their dialogue. What I did like was the way he set up the backstage horse track setting. You could tell horse racing is something Dunning loved. He did a good job of showing little details that gave those parts of the book a lot of atmosphere. Not a horrible read by any means but also not a great one overall. 337 pages. Grade: B-
Total # of books read in 2011: 45
Total # of pages read in 2011: