Sunday, July 31, 2011

Middle Sis' August Books

Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America by Jack Rakove (2010). Excellent history of several of the founding fathers, some famous, some not. The first half of the book looks at what changes led to the acceptance of an inevitable war for revolution, while the second half focuses on how the Constitution was devised. Rakove's analysis of the various regional differences in attitudes towards revolution was a new understanding to me, and fascinating. A hearty recommendation to read this book is offered.

Nature's Wrapture and Get Hooked on Tunisian Crochet, both by Sheryl Thies. Excellent pattern books, with good photos, charts, and written patterns. The Tunisian book in particular is stunning, with every pattern a winner.

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (1885). The summer choice of my 19th century literature group, this rollicking good tale was perfect for the summer--lots of adventure, mysterious people, a hidden treasure, and quite a bit of humor. And no, the movie is very different. Yes, there are a few slightly uncomfortable moments and words for a 21st-century reader, but the evolution of Allan Quatermain's views of the Kukuana, while not perfect and far from satisfying in today's world, was probably quite dramatic and unusual for his time and place.

The Agony Column by Earl Derr Biggers (1916) A classic mystery from the writer of Charlie Chan. The agony column, what we call the personals, is the lynchpin for the mystery and the romance. Cheesy mystery lover that I am, I thought I had guessed who the murderer was. Then I thought I was wrong. Then I thought I was right. And then I found out I was wrong! Deliciously, decidedly wrong! This short story, just 9 chapters long, is worth a read for the author's fantastic descriptions of London, the atmosphere before the outbreak of World War I, and a murder than will keep you guessing.

The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller (2011) Another post WWI mystery (I told you in the last review column that there are a slew of them out now), this takes place in, you guessed it, 1920 London. Our hero is another returned soldier, damaged, trying to find his way in a world that no longer makes sense to him. The mystery is good, although a little drawn out; tighter editing and compression of timescales may have made this a more enjoyable read. There are two strong female protagonists that will appeal to a modern female reader. The author lists reference works at the end, something I always enjoy and approve of, especially in a historical setting as detailed as this. I had no idea who the murder was, but once this person was revealed, the entire M.O. was obvious without reading another paragraph, so don't expect anything unusual in the murder mystery itself. Read the book for a well-researched depiction of London in 1920 and a fairly good, although at times slightly tedious, mystery.

Dandy Detects, a Victorian San Francisco Story by M. Louisa Locke (2010) Novelette featuring Ms. Locke's protagonists from her Victorian San Francisco series--except the detective is Dandy, a small terrier owned by the son of a teacher. The short story is well drawn; the characters are finely etched and sympathetic with just a few short lines of description, and the murder mystery, while predictable, is believable. Nice introduction to this series. Award winner? No, but a pleasant hour's read.

The Amersham Rubies by Rhys Bowen (2011) Novelette that tells how Molly Murphy, the plucky Irish immigrant solving murder mysteries in 1900-era New York, solved her first mystery in Ireland. Enjoyable, and the backstory is a perfectly light summer's brunch book.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clouds in NJ, 072711

Straight out of camera (SOOC)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Clouds from Above

Took this photo from the plane on the way home from St. Louis...

There were some nice cloud formations today, just before we went into the theater to see HP7.2 for the third time, but by the time I parked the car, cloud photos were completely out of my head.

I'll watch over the next day or two for some more current ones; I don't want to cheat and put my 2009 photo in here...

I was thinking about another photo theme...  how about close ups?  Close ups of anything.  A close up of your appendectomy scar, or a close up of the inside of a flower, or a close up of my dental implant...  Something original, or something that looks really cool...  What do you think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Clouds from San Fran trip

Afraid this is all I've got so far. Some cloud cover hovering over the I've-no-idea-what-they-are mountains, and the "mist" that rolls into San Francisco every day from the Pacific. It's very creepy when you zoom in, like something straight out of The Fog.

Storm Is Almost Here 07/23/2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Li'l Sis Summer Read=Christmas at Timberwoods

Yes, Christmas in July! I just finished Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels. It's our bestseller #15 for October (I read an advance proof), so I wanted to read it. Pretty quick read, although not a fan of the writing style. Too many strangers are thrown together and while a connection is made, it lacked emotion; there was no sense that any time has passed, so the story seems rushed. It may only take place during the Christmas season, but heck, that's at least a month! And for some reason, the mention of snow & angels & Christmas trees did not create any pretty imagery in my mind as I read, so I was bummed. Oh, well!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hoboken Clouds

Not for our monthly assignment, but a photo of a front coming in over the city earlier this month... Far from the best photo I've ever taken (see the light reflections in the window?!?) but for sure a pretty dramatic example of the view from my window at work...

Looking forward to a nice cloud photo either over the lake, over the city, over the house, or in some random to-be-determined location sometime in July... 

Summer Photo Challenge: Clouds

Okay, gals, here's a free-floating photo challenge, with no end date. We finally are entering the season when we have weather out here, and ya'll have great summer thunderstorms, too. So how about a challenge to capture clouds? Dark, dense clouds. Roiling clouds. Sunlight streaming through clouds. Post when photoed, and let's just follow this theme through Labor Day, which sadly will be here by the time I blink at the end of this sentence. (If this is how fast time is going now, by the tme I'm 80 a year is going to go by in a nanosecond!).

And to get us in the mood, a cloud photo from 2010:

Middle Sis' June Reads

While this looks like a short list, I've been reading an e-book galley for a couple of weeks now that I had hoped to finish by the end of the month; no dice. It's another post-WWI mystery, the first in another series, and I have to say, so far, so good. I've also been reading a newer textbook to update one of my lecture topics for my class this fall. So I have been reading more than this list reflects. Reviews next month. I'm sure you can catch the theme for this month's reading.

L Is for Lawless by Sue Grafton Okay, so I'm waaayyyy behind in the alphabet series, even more than you know, since I don't read these in order. But this was another good yarn spun by Ms. Grafton. Kinsey Milhone is asked to do a favor, an innocuous favor, for an old friend that spins out of control and sends her racing to a Texas hotel in hot pursuit of a duffel bag full of cash. Or is it? There are a few unresolved strands to the story, presumably purposefully left that way because Kinsey has no resolution (and never gets paid) to the entire mystery, so why should the reader? Strong entry in the series, with a more unusual premise to kickstart the action.

The Golden Retriever: All that Glitters by Julie Cairns Well illustrated introduction to the breed. Provides breed-specific information (coat, head, etc.), as well as general guidelines re: food, exercise, training, etc. She also provides a glossary to explain the field trial champion designations, which many breed books which focus on conformation do not. Excellent photos show the difference between the traditional field golden, and the golden retriever body and coat that has become popular over the past twenty years or so here in the states. CuddleMonster has the field retriever coat and body, by the way (someone at the dog park called him an Irish setter yesterday!)

The Essential Golden Retriever by Howell Book House and Golden Retriever by Peggy Moran Sense the theme? Lots of reading about the new zoo member this month. These are reviewed together because they are essentially the same book. If Moran's was first, and if I were her, I'd be peeved. Entire sentences and paragraphs are identical between these two books, and not just for general topics such as grooming. Let's face it, there's only a few ways to describe golden feathers. But there are lots of ways to discuss the history of the breed, and here is where the sameness of the two books is most apparent. Published by the same house, I was wondering if they bought the intellectual property rights to the one book and just re-packaged it with a different price point and no author acknowledgment in the other. If I had to chose one, go for Cairns' All That Glitters--more complete, better layout, and abundant gorgeous photos, so worth the extra money.

Does it count that I got caught up on magazines this month, including my quarterly Mystery Reader's Journal, the theme for which was Mysteries in London, which has added about 12 books to my want-to-read list?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Big Sis' June Books

I think this is the first time I've ever posted my book list first!  Yay, me!

Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert - Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love.  This book is about marriage, love and marriage in every different configuration that exists around the world.  The love and relationship and marriage she had with her first husband, how she found the same but different with Felipe, everything they had to go through to be together.  It was an interesting read.  I got a lot of good quotes for my collection.

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, by Andrea Kane - I met the author years ago, and in fact, had lunch with her when I worked for that NJ book distributor...  After I read this book I sent the author a note and she kindly replied that "of COURSE she remembers me..."  Nice woman, but Andrea, really?  I'm thinking your mama raised you right...  This is the start of a new series about a group of unconventional operatives who work together for "Forensic Instincts."  They are hired to find Krissy and the story was good and the character development was good and I'm already waiting for book #2!

You Belong to Me, by Karen Rose - Karen is a Facebook "friend" so I knew this one was coming and I couldn't wait!  She writes such great thrillers - lots of excitement and crime and drama.  Lucy thinks her close friend is murdered, and although happily he's not, it turns out that the murderer is out to demand Lucy's attention and what better way than to kill people with a connection of some kind to Lucy?

Trader of Secrets, by Steve Martini - In this Paul Madriani novel, a Mexican hit man known as Liquida threatens his daughter Sarah and needless to say, NO ONE threatens his daughter!  Paul and his cohorts travel to Asia and then to France to solve this one, but eventually have to rush home for another thrilling ending!!!

Beach Lane, by Sherryl Woods - Another in the Chesapeake Cove series, a light romance that's pure entertainment, no lessons to be learned, no deep meaning...  Susie and Mack are friends, just friends, friends who spend every possible second together, friends who everyone knows are lovers-to-be...  Now they just have to be convinced...

[edited to include...]  Oops, forgot a book...

Two Kisses for Maddy, by Matthew Logelin - Matt is the author of a blog named matt, liz and madeline, dedicated to his daughter Maddy and his late wife Liz.  Liz died within 24 hours of the birth of their daughter, after a pregnancy that wasn't the easiest...  Matt was forced to step up and be mother AND father to his baby girl, and he freely admits he wasn't the responsible one in the family!  He's a terrific author; his blog is one of my favorites.  He's also set up a non-profit foundation in Liz's name, "giving hope to widows and widowers with young familes..."