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Audiobook – The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters

>> Friday, August 29, 2008

Series: #5 in the Amelia Peabody Series
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: 1988
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat

I really enjoy listening to this series. The editions of the first four I listened to were read by Susan O’Malley, I’m now listening to Barbara Rosenblat. They are both very good readers of this series, but I just love Barbara Rosenblat.

In this installment of the series the action takes place in England during the summer break that Archeologists Amelia and Emerson typically take between seasons in Egypt. The mystery still involves Egyptology and a mummy, but this time it’s one in the British Museum. Some of the returning characters are there, as well as some new ones. Amelia’s brother manages to dump his two children on Amelia and Emerson for the summer. This creates a humorous sideplot with their son Ramses. Ramses is getting a bit less annoying to me as he gets older.

Once again, Amelia is her usual somewhat smug and always entertaining self. She’s firmly feminist in the Victorian age. The books are written as if a journal by Amelia and some of her asides she slips in just make me giggle.


It actually worked

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What a fun weekend. I went up to Washington for a girls weekend with a couple of friends. The best part was that the friend in Washington thought I was the only one driving up. Little did she know that I was also bringing a mutual friend of ours who had come all the way from Florida to surprise her. Somehow we managed to pull off the surprise. The look on her face was worth all the subterfuge and teensy white lies.

Happy tears are so much better than the other kind.

Along with hours of chatting and laughing we also managed to do some serious sightseeing. Luckily the weather cooperated and the Floridian got to see some of the Pacific Northwest at its best.
From the bridge at Deception Pass
The other side
Mt. Baker
Mt. Baker again
Mt. Rainier
Close up of glaciers on Mt. Rainier
Narada Falls at Mt. Rainier National Park.


The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

>> Thursday, August 21, 2008

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 216
A-Z Reading #40 (Y Title)

I decided to read this book after reading
Eva’s review at A Striped Armchair. It’s a small quick read that I found interesting and enjoyable. It’s about books and bookstores. Buzbee tells of his own personal history of becoming a reader and loving bookshops to the extent that he spent many years working in them and later becoming a sales rep. He also includes some interesting history about books and publishing going as far back as the great library at Alexandria.

Most readers will find moments in this book where they’re nodding their head and thinking – yes, I do that too. I also found stories that sounded familiar because they’re some of the same things my friend who works in a bookshop in Alabama says.

No matter how roundabout the path, it’s always satisfying to put the right book in the right hands, but the real thrill in bookselling is to put the right book into unsuspecting hands.

I could relate to many of the things Buzbee had to say.

The habit of book-snooping is, I admit, an annoying one, peering over the shoulder of the person on the bus, or at a café trying to decipher the cover of an open book someone’s busy reading. There’s no judgment in the titles I uncover, it’s mere curiosity, for the most part, with a bit of selfishness to it. I might find what I’m looking for in the arms of a passing pedestrian.
Oh that’s me. I’m always trying to figure out what the other commuters on the train with me are reading. There’s one woman who often rides the train with me and although I’ve never spoken to her I know we have very similar reading tastes.

The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book.

The German word for bookstore is buchhandlung, a place where books are handled. I vote we change the English word for bookstore to book-handlery because it’s so fitting. The common book is made to be handled, as if the ultimate purpose for our opposable thumbs.
I enjoyed this little book. It’s a quick read and a nice reinforcement of why I love books along with some interesting historical information.


X-treme Dating by Cathy McDavid

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Genre: Fiction/Romance
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 252
A-Z Reading #39 (X Title)

This book is definitely not my favorite genre – I'm not sure whether it would really be considered chick lit, or just a lightromance, either way I'll admit that the only reason I read it was for an X title for the A-Z challenge.

Park Evenson is a female firefighter from Tuscon. For some reason she's a contestant on a reality television show that is something like The Dating Game meets Truth or Dare. The complication for Park is that she's much more attracted to the cameraman filming her date weekend than she is to her `date'.

It certainly wasn't awful, but it wasn't something I'd consider good either. It was more like a TV movie – it happenedwhile I was doing other things (watching the Olympics). I knew from the first chapter how it would end. There were a couple of surprises along the way, but all in all it was quite forgettable and fortunately a short and quick read.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

>> Sunday, August 17, 2008

Series: #5 in the Harry Potter Series
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 870
Initials Challenge #4

Yes, I’m just now reading this one. I’ve pretty much stuck with a read the book then see the movie before reading the next book approach to this series. For some reason or another I let this one idle on the TBR list for a long time. That didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the book and the series at all.

I’m not going to bother with any plot information because you’ve either already read it, don’t want spoilers, or don’t care about the series.

I’ll just say that once again I thoroughly enjoyed the world Rowling has created and love the fact that as Harry and his classmates age, the story gains complexity. I’ll definitely not wait so long to see this movie, then read the next in the series. I heard last week that the release of the movie has been delayed, so the timing should work out well for me.


2nds Challenge 2008

>> Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Watching the Olympics is seriously cutting into my reading time so I'll take the chance to post about another challenge I'll be joining.

This was one of my favorite challenges last year, so I was happy to see Joy hosting this again for 2008.

WHO: Anybody
WHAT: Read 4 books by authors that you have only read one other
WHERE: "Thoughts of Joy..."
WHEN: September, October, November and December, 2008
WHY: Because we love to read...why else?

I do this all the time – read a book by a new to me author, put the rest of that author’s books on my TBR list and then for hundreds of varying reasons don’t get around to reading more by that author for months and sometimes years. When scanning my TBR list for books for this challenge I found the same thing as last year – it took me all of about 3 minutes to find plenty of authors with book #1 marked as read and book #2 as not read.

So here’s what I’m planning to read for this year’s challenge
Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
The Treatment by Mo Hayder
Payment in Blood by Elizabeth George


Southern Reading Challenge Completed

>> Wednesday, August 6, 2008

For the second year in a row I joined and had a great time with Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge. (and Maggie, I would have said that even if I hadn’t won one of the weekly tins of pecans.)

The rules were easy:
3 Southern Setting Books by Southern Authors in 3 Months beginning May 15 through August 15!

These are the books I read for this year’s challenge:
Pawley’s Island by Dorothea Benton Frank because her novels are nice light summer brain candy [and it was]
The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips because Eleanor said I had to so I know it’ll be good [and it was].
Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip Into the Heart of Fan Mania by Warren St. John because it’s halfway between the end of last year’s football season and the opening kickoff and I need a football related fix. [it helped and now The Hubster is reading it to get himself in football mode for the opening game on August 30th – and he’s giggling in many of the same places I was]

I also threw in a bonus Southern book with
Them Bones by Carolyn Haines – first in what looks like it’s a fun cozy mystery series.

I enjoyed all the books I read for different reasons, but I do have to say that The Well and the Mine is joining Mudbound in the ‘Best of 2008’ category. If you haven't read them both, you need to.

Thanks for hosting this challenge again Maggie! Although I plan to participate in less challenges next year, I’ll be joining this one if you host it again.


The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

>> Sunday, August 3, 2008

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 251
Southern Reading #3

First of all a big huge thank you to
My Surly Friend for recommending this one (that link takes you to her review).

This is the story of the Moore family and of Carbon Hill, Alabama in 1931. The writing is wonderful, nearly every page holds a scene, paragraph, or phrase that evokes an emotion or sense of place. Life in the depression era in a coal mining town wasn’t easy for anyone. Even those who had more than others, had far less than what most would consider sufficient.

The book opens with nine year old Tess sitting in her favorite spot on the back porch near the well. The opening lines of the book grabbed me right away:

After she threw the baby in, nobody believed me for the longest time. But I kept hearing the splash.
As if I could stop reading after that. Tess, her older sister Virgie, younger brother Jack and both of her parents Albert and Leta take turns telling this story. The reader is left with just a deep sense of place and time at the end of the book. These are characters that will stay with me for a while. Phillips has written some very real people. They are good people living in hard times.

As I said, nearly every page holds something that gives you a clear image or nudges an emotion, so here are just a few from randomly opening and scanning:

Sometimes it seemed like instead of the coal Papa and Mama has been put in the furnace, only instead of burning, they’d hardened and toughened to something that wouldn’t budge.

My knees stuck up over the old washtub, my elbows hanging over the side. It fit pants and shirts and drawers a whole lot better than it fit me.

And when she read aloud, she was beautiful, her eyes bright and her cheeks pink. Her voice turned into something new and strong and fascinating when she had somebody else’s words to read instead of her own.

Mama’s sister Emmaline died at eighteen, and Aunt Merilyn named her youngest daughter for her. That daughter’s granddaughter named her youngest daughter Emmaline. When the family and friends packed into a tiny maternity-ward room in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2004, text-messaging the good news while they waited their turn to tug at the fingers of a dark-headed baby, they were also touching some part of a girl who died quietly on top of a handmade quilt in 1906.

I’ll be looking for Gin Phillips' next book and hoping it doesn’t take long – this is definitely a book worth reading and is one of the best I’ve read this year. Not for a page turning plot or action, but for a story of decent hard working people and a family who loves each other.


Flugtag comes back to Portland

Flugtag came back to Portland yesterday for the first time since 2004. If you ever have a chance to see this event, you should.

What is Flug (from the website):

Red Bull Flugtag challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight! Flugtag may mean "flying day" in German, but all these crafts ultimately splash into the waters below. They are judged not only on their flight's distance, but creativity and showmanship as well.

The 'aircraft' and I use that term very loosely were really fun and creative. We didn't stay for the whole event, but watched about 10 'Flights'. Our favorite was the flying Winnebago by team Space Balls which won the people's choice award.

This one looked like a jet made out of giant lego blocks (it flew about as well as lego)

OK - so this is clearly not on of the flying machines, but from where we were watching on the Hawthorne Bridge I was able to get a couple of pictures of the USS Blueback (see OMSI)


Baby Afghan for a Friend's Grandson

Yarn Red Heart TLC Baby
Color - Bunny Print


Audiobook – Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

>> Saturday, August 2, 2008

Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 1995
Read by: Philip Franklin

The story of Christopher McCandless is one with no real answers, only speculation.

From the audiobook cover:

Chris McCandless, an intensely idealistic young man from an affluent East Coast family, graduated with honors in 1990 from Emory University, changed his name, burned all his money, and vanished in search of a raw, transcendent experience. In April 1992, he hitchhiked from Montana to Alaska and walked "into the wild" to begin his adventure, carrying little more than a rifle, 10 pounds of rice, and a collection of books by Tolstoy and Thoreau. Four months later, his emaciated corpse was found at his campsite by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of INTO THE WILD.
I enjoy Jon Krakauer’s writing style. It’s somewhere between journalistic and sympathetic storyteller. Krakauer definitely has a personal involvement in this story. He clearly states that there are aspects of Chris McCandless’ story that remind him of his own youth.

Chris was an enigma to most people who knew him. His father probably put it best:

“How is it,” he wonders aloud as he gazes blankly across Chesapeake Bay, “ that a kid with so much compassion could cause his parents so much pain?”.
Chris was definitely idealistic, intelligent, rebellious, unprepared, reckless, stupid, compassionate, friendly - all of the above and more. I’m stil not sure of how I feel about him.

Both The Hubster and I have read and enjoyed other books by Jon Krakauer. We both had this one on our ‘to be read someday’ list so the chance to listen to the audio version on a road trip this past week worked out well. It was an interesting book and left me with lots to ponder.


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