What I’m Reading: The Lost City of Z

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Picture found here.

Hello readers!

If any of you are wondering where I’ve been, my laptop died. My husband is graciously letting me borrow his for the time being, so I’m finally back to posting. Huzzah!

This post is a review I wrote today on my Goodreads account.

A prim but occult dabbling 58 year old Victorian explorer, his 21 year old son, and his son’s best friend disappear deep in the Amazon in search of a lost city. What happened? And does the city they were looking for even exist?
This book is full of the usual things you’d expect in a book about Victorian jungle explorers: cannibalism, pit vipers, shrunken heads, people buried alive, and racist white men.
It’s also full of things that might surprise you, like religious cults, a mutinous polar explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh’s embalmed skull, feminism, Colonel T. E. Lawrence (a.k.a. Lawrence of Arabia), and former President Teddy Roosevelt.
Percy Fawcett was a character larger than life, but his wife was incredible as well. She spoke German and French, advocated for women’s rights, and was raised in the lap of luxury, yet married Fawcett and raised his three children in poverty. She wanted to explore the Amazon with him, but instead became his advocate, championing his name and promoting the details of his trips to the public.
Fawcett’s last and fateful trip was, in part, sponsored by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and spawned the screenplay “Find Colonel Fawcett” on which Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s “Road to Zanzibar” was (exceedingly) loosely based.
This is one book you will disappear into for hours. Don’t forget to come back before the exploring bug bites, and you too trek off in search of “Z.”

What I’m Reading: 2 A. M. at the Cat’s Pajamas

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I am fourteen pages into this book and I love it. The author uses such rich, vivid imagery. Listen to this:

“As the dog awakens, the city awakens. Crust on its windshields and hungry. Snorting plumes of frustration in the harbor. Scratching its traffic on the expressway. Bone cold and grouchy, from the toes of its stadiums to the strands of its El.” -Marie-Helene Bertino

So far, this is one of those books you have to digest, to swish the words around in your mouth so you can fully appreciate every syllable. Can’t you just taste the grouchiness of the city?

I’ll let you know if I still love it by the time I’m finished.

Enjoy your Thursday!

What I’m Reading: The Feast Nearby

The Feast Nearby

I found my copy on Amazon.

This is not a “how-to” or cook book. Don’t read this book to shrink your budget either, because that’s not what it’s for. It is a lovely long chat with the author about her life in Michigan, and, being from Michigan, I love it. The author draws us into her tiny kitchen as she cans and preserves, she takes us on walks through the woods to pick quarts of glittering berries, she gives insight and provokes thought. She gives us toothsome recipes and happy anecdotes about coffee and chickens. For this home grown Michigander, that’s a wonderful thing.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I’m reading or send me a book recommendation.

What I’m Reading: The Disappearing Spoon

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Image found here.

This book is predominantly about science. Before you dismiss the book because it might be boring or you’re “just not a science person,” consider these interesting snippets: mercury (the element, not the planet) caused literal “mad hatters,” a toxic, non-dissolving laxative made of antimony was considered so valuable that families would often pass them down from father to son, and, much like Edison and the light bulb, German chemist Robert Bunsen didn’t actually invent the Bunsen burner, he improved and popularized it. Mr. Bunsen also had a penchant for arsenic and blowing stuff up.

Fun stuff, huh?

The author discusses “True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.” Yes, he does get a little technical at times. It is a book about science after all. I think we can all appreciate the tale about the mother of the man, Dmitri Mendeleev, who invented the periodic table:  Her husband passed away and left her with fourteen children. So in 1847, she took over a local glass factory and bossed the men who worked there in order to support her family. Then the factory burned to the ground. So she took her son, Dmitri, 1,200 miles on horseback, over snowy mountains to a university in Moscow where he could further his education. They rejected him on the grounds that he was not a local. So she rode another 400 miles with him to St. Petersburg to enroll him in the university his father had attended. After he was accepted, she died.

What a woman.

This book is full of strange and wonderful tales of events that shaped the periodic table and how the periodic table has shaped our world. Five stars from me.

And if you like strange and wonderful tales, stay tuned! Next Monday I will post the first installment of the “cheese sandwich” story. You have been warned.

What I’m Reading: Alfred Hitchcock’s Tales to Take Your Breath Away

Friday the 13th? I’m not worried. Monday the 13th? Not that’s something to be frightened of! So what else would I be reading but tales collected by the Master of Suspense himself? Read on, if you dare.CAM00266-2.jpg

Who doesn’t like a good, spine tingling story?

This book consists of many short stories, many of murder most foul (insert evil laughter here). A few, like The Dettweiler Solution are quite humorous, while some, like A Cabin in the Woods are sure to make the hairs on your neck prickle. Still others are historical capers, like The Whitechapel Wantons. Now granted, this book is a collection of stories printed in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in the 70’s. Some of the stories are riddled with outdated references,  or stereotypical relationships-the nagging wife, the browbeaten husband-but don’t let that get in the way of your enjoyment. I confess, I did skip a few that were too dry for my taste, but overall, this was a good read.

What are you reading this week?

 

What I’m Reading: The Advanced Genius Theory

moon-1275126_960_720Image from Pixabay

Have you ever looked at a celebrity and thought they must be losing it? That almost everything they are acting in/writing/producing is complete and utter drivel? The book I’m reading, The Advanced Genius Theory by Jason Hartley, explains why you might be wrong.

Do you love Star Wars but hate Jar Jar Binks? Jason Hartley explains that George Lucas is an Advanced Genius, so in reality, Jar Jar is just ahead of his time (which doesn’t make the character any more likable to me, but at least there is an explanation). So, what does “Advanced Genius” mean? According to the author, you have to meet five criteria:

1) You must have done great work for more than fifteen years.

2) You must have alienated your original fans.

3) You must be completely unironic.

4) You must be unpredictable.

5) You must “lose it.” Spectacularly.

He explains his theory in depth from there. So if you want to figure out if your favorite actor/chef/politician/public figure is actually an Advanced Genius, or really is losing it, read the book. If you want to see people in a fresh perspective, read the book. If you want to learn an Advanced mind set, read the book.

I give this book five out of five stars. What are you reading?

 

A Classic Question

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Image from Pixabay

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five books would you have, and why?  Never mind about food, shelter, weapons, or even “how to” books. Banish those logical thoughts from your mind. Tell me what books so speak to your soul that you would be content to read only those precious five for the rest of your conceivable life.

I personally own a great many books. If you asked me to give them all away but five, I would ask you to take a long walk off a short precipice. Nevertheless, for hypothetical purposes, here are my five picks:

1) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 

Unrequited love, unrelenting hate, revenge, and characters that give you all the feels are a few reasons why I read this book at least twice a year. It makes me feel sad in a way that makes me feel happy; if you understand what I mean, come over with a cup of tea sometime and we’ll read it together. If you don’t understand, just read this quote from one of the main characters, Heathcliff, who is longing for his dead love:

” …Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you—haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always—take any form—drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!'”

I get goosebumps every time.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is probably a book you had to read in school. Did you skim it and just watch the movie? Shame. This book is about a small southern town with all its hopes and predjudices  as seen through the eyes of a young girl who worships her father and tolerates her brother.  At the age of 14, I knew I would name my first-born son Atticus Finch (insert last name here). That never happened, but my love for this book is just as strong as it was then. Incidentally, I actually do love the movie almost as much as the book; a rare opinion from me. I like Go Set a Watchman as well, though as an extended look into Scout’s life rather than a stand alone book.

3) Tisha as told to Robert Specht by Anne Purdy

A young woman goes into the Alaskan wilderness in the 1920’s to teach children in a remote mining village. She tries to teach some Indian children along side the white children, but encounters suspicion and resistance from the villagers that builds into aggression when she starts dating a man who is only half white. The best part? It’s a true story. I have bought every copy I have come across so I have extras to give away. The copy I keep my mother gave me, and I read it about once a year.

4) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Written by the Queen of Mystery, this book follows a group of people-each hiding a dark secret-that come together on a strange island. One by one, they are murdered, and their deaths are eerily similar to the lyrics of a children’s nursery rhyme. Who is killing them, and why? The movie (1945) is fun to watch, but they ruin the ending. Read the book!

5) The Magic of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I’m consistently surprised by the large number of people who do not realize just how many books are in The Wizard of Oz series. You are certainly familiar with Dorothy, the Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow. Perhaps even Princess Ozma. This book has a wicked Nome king, a Munchkin magician, Li-Mon-Eags, a magical island, and a plot to invade the beloved Emerald City. A fairy tale at its finest.

This list might change tomorrow. Maybe I’ll find a new favorite, or remember an old one. Maybe next week I’ll be in the mood for some sci-fi or a good western. The beauty and the brilliance of books is that, no matter how much you change, they will always be there to read again, and again. And again. What else is there to do on a deserted island?