Friday, August 1, 2014

The Poisoned Pilgrim

The Poisoned Pilgrim by Oliver Potzsch

This is the latest book in the Hangman's Daughter series.

I think this is a great series of historical fiction and Potzsch ends his books with a tour guide of the town (or locale) where the book takes place.  He points out the buildings that still stand that were featured in his novel and gives you good insight into the historical events that transpired.

This book takes place in 1666 at and around the monastery at Andechs. As always, he covers what passed for medicine at the time but also gives us insight as to the advancements in science and the experiments that were being done at the time.  We also get to meet an automaton which were apparently all the rage in the more cosmopolitan areas of the era.

I highly recommend this series but start at the beginning so you get the full benefit of the character development over the course of the four books.

The Seventh Child

The Seventh Child by Erik Valeur

What is it about the Swedes, Danes and Norwegians that they can write about horrific deaths as they were commonplace fender benders in life?

This book is part mystery, part murder mystery.  Being an adoptive parent, there were aspects of this book that were difficult.  The author, himself and adoptive child, wrote often of how many adoptive children felt like they didn't belong and how they were broken or discarded.  Granted, in this book the children were pretty much all told about their adoption around the age of 13 or 14 which made them feel as though they had been lied to by their parents all this time.  This made them question what else had been a lie, their love for the child?  Anything else they were lying about?  In one situation, the child was an adult and had never been told and only just learned as he helped solve a mystery involving these other people.

This was a pretty good book although a bit on the creepy side. If you like creepy murder mysteries, I think you might like this.

The Fracking King

The Fracking King by James Browning

This was a free book on my Kindle as a Kindle Single.  I have a hard time saying no to free.

This was a pretty good book although it was clearly an environmental message from the very beginning.  I liked how the author melded the world of boarding schools an scrabble in order to demonstrate the repercussions of fracking.

This was worth reading if you are at a loss as to what else to read.  I wouldn't say this was an absolute MUST READ book and if you don't read often or read slowly, there are plenty other books that would be higher on the list.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon

This is the latest installment in the Outlander series.  If you haven't read the other books, don't start with this one.  This is definitely a series that needs to be read from the beginning.

I loved it so much I read it twice in a row.  The second time I picked up on several things that I had missed the first time around because I was reading so fast the first time around.

For anyone who isn't sure if they would like this series, the television channel Starz is premiering the Outlander series on August 9.  Watch it and see if you like it.  That's what got me to finally read the Game of Thrones books.

What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Imagine losing the last 10 years of your life.  You pass out and when you come to, you think it's 10 years ago.  What were you doing then?  Who were you?  What do you feel and how did you live your daily life?  Was it the same as it is now?

This was an engaging book that forced a younger mind to reconcile with the person that she had become.  What or who had changed her so dramatically from the person she had been to who she had become?  Who will she be when this is all over and she remembers again?

I really liked this book and it started a bit of self-examination of my own.  I recommend it to busy moms everywhere as well as anyone else who is interested.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Death Comes For the Archbishop

Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather

This is not a story of action. I knew here was a death expected but still I was sad at the loss of the Archbishop and his friends.

This is a slow but engaging saga of two catholic priests who are sent from France to Ohio and then from Ohio to New Mexico. This was in the days when the Comanche still ruled the plains and so the voyage was made long by having to go around Indian territory. New Mexico had only just become part of America rather than Mexico. The arrival of a French Bishop and his French Vicar did not sit well with everyone.

Willa Cather was able to capture the look and feel of the wide open spaces that had not yet been settled. She does this over again and again in her books and this is no different.

I highly recommend this book. I was surprised how fast I was able to get through the book. It was an easy read and very engaging.

The Bridge

The Bridge by Kay Bratt

There is a bridge in China and the legend says that children left at the bridge will have eternal luck. This means that people who cannot take care of their children, infants even, might leave their children on this bridge with the hope that the child will have eternal luck.

Across the street from the bridge lives a solitary old woman. Over the years she has rescued many children left at the bridge and has taken them to the orphanage across town. Today, a mother has left a four-year old boy who is blind.

This is a short story, a novella. It was a super deal because I bought another book on my kindle. It was a good story but I was dismayed to learn how short it was. I would have liked her to continue the story.

The Beggar King

The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch

This is the third book in the Hangman's Daughter series and it does not disappoint.

I really enjoy this series.  There is intrigue and mystery as well as the peek into life in a historical world.  I'm not sure if I'll ever need to know about various forms of torture or the implements used in torture but it is interesting nonetheless.  Also interesting is that the hangman would need to be able to heal his victims so that they could endure more torture the next day.  Just proves what sick creatures humans are to come up with that idea.

The hangman's daughter, Magdalena, and her secret lover, Simon, get themselves into trouble as usual but this time they are also having to save Magdalena's father, the hangman.  Complete with politics, medicines, poisons and social commentary, this book offers it all.

At the end of the book, just like the last, the author provides a modern guide through the city of the story.  He takes you through the streets of the novel and gives you information on the main buildings that you can see if you were to travel to Regensburg Germany.

I highly recommend this book but if you haven't read the others, start with The Hangman's Daughter and then read them in order.

Midnight Crossing

Midnight Crossing by Charlaine Harris

This is the first book in a new series by Harris.

Our main character appeared briefly in the Harper Connelly series, I believe.  Manfred Bernardo was born with psychic powers like his grandmother. Since his grandmother has passed away, Manfred has decided it is time to buckle down and focus on work. Work being his many internet psychic sites. Manfred has decided that moving to the extremely small, back-water town of Midnight, Texas will allow him to focus on his work. He is partly right.

Midnight apparently attracts those who are trying to disappear a bit and live a quiet life. Unfortunately, a missing person becomes a murder mystery and only Manfred is safe from suspect.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series as well as anything else Ms. Harris writes. Her writing style is fun and easy and her characters are quirky but believable.

The Space Between

The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon

Gabaldon is appeasing her many Outlander fans with this short novella. This is about neither Claire nor Jamie. It is, instead about Laoghaire's daughter Joan, Jaime's other step daughter and Jaime's nephew Michael and their trip to Paris.

Michael has been working for his great uncle's wine distribution company, Fraser et Cie, in Paris. Shortly after the death of his wife, he returned to Scotland for his father's death and funeral. When he returns to Paris, he is asked to escort Joan to a convent in Paris where Joan is hoping to take her orders after being a novice for at least a year.

The whispers of Joan's father Jaime, cause a case of mistaken identity and intrigue since Joan's lack of French keeps her from clarifying that he was her step-father.

This was a fun, quick read and it keeps up the anticipation of the next novel due out soon as well as the Stars series Outlander that airs in August, I believe.

Dragon's Triangle

Dragon's Triangle by Christine Kling

This book brought me back the The Garden of Evening Mists. The plot centers around the legend of the Golden Lily. This being that Japan had plundered the riches of every country it had invaded over the years.  During WWII, it became physically prohibitive for the Japanese ships to carry all the riches back to Japan so they decided to hide the booty in caves all around the Philippines and only the members of the royal family would know where the caves were. Of course they were killed and/or their maps were lost and the treasure has never been found.

In the Dragon's Triangle, our heroine happily sails wherever she wants and pays the bills by designing home security systems. She is a former member of the military with family secrets that trickle out as the story goes on. Some of these secrets were easy to deduce but a few others were a bit obscure.

This may be the first in a series and I'd be willing to read the next installment or another book by Kling.  It was a fun, quick read that was entertaining and exotic thanks to the locations covered.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Becoming

The Becoming by Jessica Meigs

This was a Kindle First. It is the first in series.

A fast moving virus has managed to escape the CDC in Atlanta. No one is clear on what has happened but here are riots in Atlanta and the riots seem to be spreading.

This is the zombie apocalypse. How would you react?  Would you survive.

The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

This book is fiction but the author did a ton of research including traveling to North Korea for his research. I think if Kim Jong Il ever read the book, he would not have been happy about allowing this man to visit. This book does not paint North Korea in a good light. If fact, this regime needs to be eradicated some how.

This is the story of a boy raised in an orphanage. His father is the orphan master and his mother was taken to Pyonyang because she was a singer.  Like Forest Gump, our protagonist was conveniently placed in a myriad of jobs and locations so that we could really get a feel for life in the DPRK.

I highly recommend this book.

Killing Ruby Rose

Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries

One of the benefits of having Amazon Prime is a thing called Kindle First. Once a month you can choose from 4 books and get one for free. I am all for free.

This is a Young Adult novel that is pretty much a girl power book.

Ruby Rose is a girl whose dad, a SWAT officer, was killed in the line of duty and her mom, the DA, works too much.  Ruby was trained in self defense by her dad but sometimes has problems with a lack of control.

Ruby Rose finds herself in a bit of a pickle but with the support of her new boyfriend and the help of some unlikely sources, everything turns out alright.

I would be interested in reading another book in this series. This book was fun, had some unexpected twists and the characters didn't bug the crap out of me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Silence of Trees

The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu

This is the tale of a woman who loses herself and then finds herself again.

In the backdrop of the drama that was the beginning of World War II, Nadya is a teen girl in Ukraine. The clash of German and Russian soldiers tear her world apart.  In an attempt to protect her family, if they survived, she changed her last name. This was the beginning of the many secrets she would hold in her heart.

This book wove Ukrainian folklore into a beautiful fabric of Nadya's life. Her family, often like a whirlwind around her, also grounded her and supported her. Nadya struggles with her past, her secrets and regrets. Eventually she is able to release the binding around her heart and tell her story to those she loves.

This was an endearing story of a woman who one day realizes that the life she has lived isn't quite the life she had hoped for. The questions is "is it a life enough and can there be more?"

The 100 Year Old Man Who Crawled Out a Window and Disappeared

The 100 year old man who crawled out a window and disappeared by Jonas Johansson

This was an entertaining book. I highly recommend it.

The Swedes seem to have a knack for telling stories of violence with such nonchalance that it seems quite commonplace to kill another person because they are bothering you. Also, the protagonist has lived a Forest Gump-like life in that he was strategically in important places at important times with important people.

Set aside your disbelief and allow yourself to eavesdrop on the fantastic life of a very matter of fact man.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ajax Penumbra 1969

Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan

I bought this as a Kindle Single but I think it is available as a book as well.

This is the prequel to Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  In it we meet Ajax Penumbra and learn of his upbringing and college years.  We travel with Ajax to San Francisco and see how and why he stumbled into the 24-Hour Bookstore.

This was a short read but fun and entertaining and I think it is worth reading especially if you have read Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

Bel Canto

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This was a hard book to get through.  I had to put it down and then go back to it (part of my new year's resolution is to finish all those books I didn't finish last year).  It was worth finishing.

Bel Canto is set somewhere in South America.  A lavish birthday party is being thrown at the home of the Vice President.  The guest of honor is the president of a company being wooed by the nebulous South American country.  They would very much like him to build a factory in their company which would bring much needed jobs and revenues to their country.  The president of the company has no intention of doing any such thing.  He agrees to this party because the country has arranged to have his favorite opera singer perform at his party.

Unfortunately, the terrorists planning to kidnap the President of the country don't get the message that the President will not be attending the birthday party after all.  This book is about what happens when a rather poorly planned kidnapping fails to occur but now way too many people are hostage and the terrorists see no way out.

Much of the story surrounds Mr Hosokawa and his interpreter, Gen Watanabe.  We also get to know Roxane Coss the opera singer.  Several of the terrorists are featured as well as a few of the hostages including the Vice President.  The people within the Vice Presidential residence live in a bubble until they don't.  The ending is predictable but it's quite lovely in how swift and silent it seems to occur.

I hated the Epilogue.  I think this book was a beautifully written tragic love story.  There were so many people who became wrapped in different kinds of love, love of music, love of a friend, love of an un-reachable woman, love of a man or a woman within a bubble.  The Epilogue seemed to diminish the relationships and feelings that occurred in the book by trying to tie it all up in a nice bow of resolution.  I didn't want the resolution.  I wanted to feel like I was left hanging and deflated.  That felt genuine.


Allegiant by Veronica Roth

This is the third book in the Divergent Series.
This book really brought out the whole question of society and how it works or how it should work.  The expectations we lay upon members of society and in what situations do we expect less and should we expect less or more.

I found myself comparing Roth's societal discourse to that within the Hunger Games trilogy (mostly because I just saw the movie Catching Fire).  The worlds were similar in that there was a controlling government that was monitoring the activity of the controlled.  In the Hunger Games, the people of the Districts knew they were being monitored and controlled.  In this trilogy, the people of Chicago are in ignorance of the reality of their situation.  There are cities mentioned who know they are monitored and controlled and their societal structure is much more broken and dissolute than that within the walls of former Chicago.

I found this book, and the series, entertaining and thought provoking.  I think it would be a good avenue for discourse with young adults about society and the expectations that we place on ourselves and others in order to live and function within society.  This series didn't have the rated R psychological twisty-ness of the Hunger Games nor was is as violent so I think it will have a broader audience.

There is one more book in the series which is Four: A Divergent Collection. This gives us a more in depth look at Tobias Eaton aka Four and why he is the way he is.  I am fine skipping this one although I'm sure it will be an entertaining read as the others have been.  Roth also has a series of Divergent Short Stories.  I think I've lived in this world of her long enough and I'm ready to move on.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Tris, formerly known as Beatrice, and her boyfriend Four are at the heart of the second book in the Divergent series.  They join forces with members of Abegnation and later some of their Dauntless family in order to battle the mind-control invasion of Erudite.

A war has begun within the walls.  Other than the woman who orchestrated the whole thing, only one man is certain why it happened, everyone else is speculating.  That one man has proven himself to be cruel and untrustworthy.  Four will absolutely not listen but Tris thinks that despite his flaws, he may just be telling the truth.  In the meantime, they must try to stay alive and save as many others as they can.

While they stay with the Amity group outside the walls, Tris realizes why she could never be part of their faction.  Their happy peacefulness is so contrary to her nature that she must leave before she explodes.  When they seek refuge with Cantor, their black and white way of seeing the world is both refreshing and painful.  Revelations of truth cause a strain in the relationship between Tris and Four.  Being young in a young relationship, they aren't quite sure how to handle absolute honesty.

Four decides to ally himself with his estranged mother and her group of Factionless.  Tris is increasingly weary of her agenda and finds herself an ally with Four's cruel father in attempt to reveal what the leader of Erudite started a war to keep hidden.  As Four and Tris grow more familiar with the attributes and flaws of each faction, they become more certain that a world of factions is no way to live.  The way they each seek a new world could tear them apart forever or the truth of it all could bind them like nothing else could.


Divergent by Veronica Roth

Some sort of horrific war has occurred.  Chicago has a wall around it.  There is a gate in the wall and the lock is on the outside.  Everyone inside the wall lives in one of four factions.  A fifth faction lives outside the wall.

Beatrice is sixteen years old and today is the biggest day of her life.  She has grown up in the faction Abegnation in which the members give selflessly to others in time and service.  She will undergo an aptitude test which will tell her in which faction she belongs.  She then gets to choose and decide if she will follow the advice of the test or go into another faction.  The one thing she absolutely doesn't want is for the test to be inconclusive.  If that were to happen, she would be Divergent.

This is an engaging story.  Beatrice is like-able and believable as a sixteen year old girl who has grown up struggling to be selfless.  She sometimes behaves stupidly but so do all sixteen year old people.  This is a story about a girl growing into her own, coming of age in a dystopian world full of turmoil.

This book has been made into a movie and I am looking forward to seeing if the movie does justice to the story.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


11/22/63 by Stephen King

For all the Stephen King haters out there, this book is not horror.  Also, Stephen King is one of the few writers that can develop a character in a single paragraph to the point where you are completely engaged with that character and are ready to delve into the depths of the story with that person so if you hate horror, pick one of his other books and read it (like this one).

For those old enough to remember, 11/22/63 was the date that John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.  Now, if you were a writer and could write a "what if" with regards to that date, what would you do?

Being a lover of time travel in the Outlander series as well as traveling with The Doctor, this book was right up my alley.  If you can suspend your disbelief long enough to read this wonderful "what if", I highly recommend it.

I loved this book.  The character, Jake Epping, was wonderfully believable.  I was engaged with his inner-wrestling.  I thought he was great making up stories on the fly (and I was ready to believe that he was the one making this stuff up).  This was a great trip back in history and I learned much about Lee Harvey Oswald but also what life was like in the late 50's and early 60's.  I have always had a vision of Happy Days but that isn't really the picture portrayed by King.  The anachronisms that rise up to bite Jake in the butt at times, were often sneaky enough that I didn't catch them.  I would be terrible at time travel in the long-term.  Sure, I could probably pop in to a different time for a day or two but for many years, I would probably fail miserably.

Anyway, before I blow it and give too much away, just read this book.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Long Knives

Long Knives by Charles Rosenberg

Jenna James is an attorney turned UCLA Law professor.  A quick 15 minute meeting with a student early one morning turns into a total nightmare in which Jenna is a suspect in a murder but also convinced that she was the intended victim.

Jenna does a few things that are stupid and you know that they will come back to bite her in the butt - and they do.  All in all though, the portrayal of Jenna seems to be realistic.  There are times that I believe that she really does know her stuff in the legal world.  Her actions, however, often belie that fact.

A big part of the mystery surrounds sunken treasure and maritime salvage laws.  I really felt like Jenna's character was knowledgeable in the realm of maritime law.  Rosenberg could have been making it all up but it sounded plausible and I had no problem believing that the character had developed a love for this type of law.

All in all, this was a fun murder mystery and the whodunit reveal went right to the very end.
By the way, I got this book as a Kindle First.  This is an offer that Amazon Prime members get where they get to choose a free book each month from a selection of four different books.  I have no idea what the general availability is at this time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Line

The Line (Witching Savannah, Book One) by J.D. Horn

This was a good light read.  I wanted to smack the protagonist several times though because she was being so obviously stupid and whiny.

This book takes place in Savannah and definitely uses the lore of the city to it's advantage.  The protagonist comes from an old Savannah family known to be witches.  Her life has been both benefited and not because of this bit about her family.

I can sort of see how the author will make more books in the series but it wasn't engaging enough, didn't leave me hanging enough, to want to read further.  I bought the book on a $.99 deal on my Kindle and I think I definitely got my money's worth but I am not sure I can give it more recommendation than that.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

I had someone recommend this book as "geeky and fun" because of it's references to various computer programs.  This book, however, is so much more that that.

This book combines Old Knowledge and New Knowledge and weaves them together with a wonderful mystery - several actually.  I hesitate to say much more because I don't want to accidentally drop any spoilers.  I will say this, you should read this book.  It is a fun and entertaining escape.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Bloodletter's Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia)

The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty

Hungary was at war with the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1526.  During the time that the Catholics were fighting the scurge of Islam, they had dissent within their own ranks, the rise of Protestantism.  in 1606 Archduke Matthias (Matthias II) managed to negotiate the Treaty of Vienna which allowed for religious freedom and united the people of Christianity against the Ottoman Empire.

In 1608, a bathmaid, Marketa Pichlerova, was butchered by the bastard son of Rudolf II.  His son, Don Julius was reportedly insane.  After this event, Rudolf II fell into a deep melancholy and dismissed his advisers and ministers, leaving his valet, Philip Lang, in charge of state affairs.  In June 1608, Matthias and his allies marched toward Prague and forced his brother Rudolf II to yield the kingdoms of Moravia, Hungary and Austria.  Rudolf II lived out his life in seclusion surrounded by his personal servants until his death in 1612.

A year after the death of Don Julius, a two-tome book Malleus Maleficarom, explaining sorcery and witchcraft was found in his possessions in Rozmberk Castle where he died.  A supposition was made that the book was purchased because he believed, like his father, that he was bewitched and he was perhaps taking steps to locate the witch.

The subsequent Thirty Years War, involving most of Europe in the struggle between Catholics and Protestants, devastated Bohemia.  Doctor Jakub Horcicky de Tenepec, a Catholic prisoner was exchanged for a Protestant prisoner, Doctor Jan Jesenius.  In 1621 Jan Jesenius was shot along with twenty-six other Protestants in Prague's Old Town Square.

Doctor Horcicky wrote a pamphlet entitled "Catholic Confession, or Description of the Right common Chrisitian Confession, about Hope Credence and Love."  He was quite successful professionally creating a medicine from the distillation of plants called "aqua sinapii" (water of mustards) that proved quite profitable.  He held the title of imperial chemist both under Rudolf II and Emperor Matthias.

In the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University is a mysterious tome written in an indecipherable text known as the Voynich manuscript.  On the first page of the manuscript is written the name Jakub Horcicky de Tenepec, botanist and personal physician to Rudolf II.

With these historical events, Lafferty wove an engaging tale of a young girl of Krumlov who grew up in the shadows of Rozmberk Castle working in her mother's bathhouse and assisting her father, the Barber/Surgeon in his bloodletting.  Lafferty has created a great story based in the solid footings of historical events.

I highly recommend this book if you like historical fiction.

Lafferty has two other books, The Drowning Guard: A Novel of the Ottoman Empire and House of Bathory (starting in Slovakia in the early 1600's and concluding 400 years later in Colorado).  I have put them on my Kindle Wish List and I look forward to reading them both.  I just have to get through a few more of my started but not yet finished books first.

Three Cups of Deceit

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

So pretty much everyone has read the book Three Cups of Tea, myself included.  In Three Cups of Deceit, Jon Krakauer points out the differences between the events portrayed in TCofT and what actually happened.

Krakauer interviewed the people who were with Mortenson on his fateful K2 expedition.  In TCofT Mortenson claimed to have been separated from his guide and wandered alone and haggard into Korphe.  According to his companions, this never occurred and they all made their way safely down the mountain into Askole and then into Skardu where their two porters left them to return home.  Mortenson and his friend Scott Darsney stayed in Skardu for about a week and then traveled to Khane in the Hushe Valley to visit the home of the expedition cook, Akhmalu.  It was to Akhmalu that Mortenson made his promise to return and build a school.

Mortenson seems to be a great story-teller knowing when to bend the facts to create a more compelling story.  If bending the facts were the only issue, I don't think Krakauer would have written his book, though.  Unfortunately, it seems that Mortenson was never very keen on the checks and balances of accounting and making sure that money donated to Central Asia Institute or to Pennies for Peace were actually used for building schools and not for his personal gain.

I have had this book on my Kindle for quite some time and just haven't gotten around to reading it so I am way behind the times. After this book was published and 60 Minutes did a story on this, a lawsuit was created (of course). According to Wikipedia (citing articles from Vancouver Sun, BBC, Charity Watch, and Bozeman Chronicle), "In April 2012, after a year long investigation by the Montana attorney general, Mortenson agreed to repay $1 million to the CAI. The Montana inquiry had found that he had misspent over $6 million of the organization's money, although no criminality was found. Montana Attorney General Seve Bullock said: "Mr Mortenson may not have intentionally deceived the board or his employees, but his distregard for an attitude about basic record-keeping and accounting for his activities essentially had the same effect." In addition, under the terms of the selltement agreement, Mortenson was required to resign as executive director and could no longer serve as a voting member of CAI's board. However, he was allowed to remain with CAI as an employee. The settlement was criticized by CharityWatch, an advocacy group, for permitting the existing three-member board, including Mortenson to select the new board."

Okay, so the fact that Mortenson was legally called on the carpet makes me feel a bit better but reading this book made me really mad.  I, like so many others, had donated to the CAI after reading Three Cups of Tea. I was not only mad about the lies and the apparent misappropriation of funds, I was mad about the mismanagement of the schools. The fact that schools were being built in places where they weren't needed (being called ghost schools by the locals) and those that were being used and run didn't necessarily have adequate supplies or trained teachers.  It's one thing to have lofty goals and ideals but another thing entirely to pull it all off and reach fruition. 

In researching the aftermath of Three Cups of Deceit I found a couple more things that are saddening. So to start off, in the book writing world, if there are two authors on a book (usually the first name is the famous person and the second is either someone you've never heard of or only heard of slightly), the second is generally the writer of the book and the first either dictated their story and expected the second name to make it into a legible and coherent story or, in the case of many novels, the first person gave the second person a general outline of a story and had the second person write the book.  This is how many authors get their start in publishing, by the way, being ghost writers and then second names on a book.  So anyway, the second name on Three Cups of Tea was David Oliver Relin and on November 14, 2012 he committed suicide.  He had, reportedly had his own difficulties with Greg Mortenson and when the lawsuit against Mortenson was raised, Relin hired a lawyer to protect himself and separate himself from the apparent inaccuracies of the book that had been dictated to him.  Since he didn't leave a suicide epistle, one can only assume that the scandal surrounding his book had something to do with his decision to end his life.

I was hoping that with all the over-haul required of CAI after the 2012 resolution to the investigation, the CAI would be performing with transparency and working toward the lofty goals of not only creating schools but providing teachers and supplies for the teachers.  Unfortunately in April 2013 at article on the Nonprofit Imperative blog, says that the new executive director Anne Beyersdorfer is operating in much the same manner.  She has been giving "full transparency" lip service to the press and anyone else who asks but in reality, she is doing her best to shield Mortensons misdeeds from the world.  Mortenson is no longer on the board but seems to hold much sway over the organization anyway.  He is still an employee of CAI and very much still the public face of the organization.  Here's the link to the blog in case you care to read it.

I have decided that any organization that Greg Mortenson is involved with, does not get a penny of my money no matter how lofty their goals.  Too bad.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!

Counting up the books I reviewed for 2013, I read only 33 books.  That's a far cry from the 80 or so books I read in 2012.

My work schedule definitely changed in 2013 making it so I had less free time to read.  I read several other books but they were junk books not worth reviewing.  I found myself reading more junk books because I only had 5 minutes here and there rather than 15-20 minutes to actually get more out of my book at each setting.  My schedule has made it so I understand the magazine readers more.  It's easier to read something quick and easy if you only have 5 or 10 minutes in a setting.  It's much harder to get through an involved plot line if you don't have 30 minutes or more to invest to get into a book.

In the new year, I am hoping to finish the 13 books that I started in my Kindle but haven't finished.  I also have a few books (you know, the old-fashioned paper kind) that I have started but not finished.  I would also like to work on reading through the Authors card game.  I have all the books and poems from the game on my Kindle.

After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse

After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris

In an attempt to wrap up the long series of Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris lists all her characters in alphabetical order and lets us know what happened after the series ended.

If you are hoping for a wrap-up novel like I was, you will be disappointed.  Had I realized what the book was to begin with, I would have been very satisfied.  It was interesting to see what Charlaine Harris envisioned for her various characters.

If you have read all the Sookie Stackhouse books, this one is a must-read.

The Garden of Evening Mists

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

This book was beautifully written.  It is the kind of prose that feels poetic because it is so descriptive.

Set in Malay before World War II and Malaysia after the War, this book weaves a story of many lives that overlap and intertwine.

Enemies become allies thanks to the beauty and magic of the Garden up in the mountains of Malaysia.  Through the work of the Garden, the philosophy of the enemy is understood.  Later, reconnecting with the garden, secrets are discovered and revealed.

The weaving of the story, unravels the threads of the many lives that were enmeshed both knowingly and not.

I highly recommend this book.

The One You Love

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

This was a pretty good thriller.  The protagonist, Emma Holden, has a tendency to make stupid decisions which are really annoying but it seems that this is a requirement for most thrillers.

It was a super bargain at $1 on the Kindle so I figured I'd give it a try.  There are more books by this author and I would be willing to read them.  Not a rousing thumbs up but not a thumbs down either.

Life After Life

Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

At this point pretty much everyone has seen the movie Groundhog Day.

This book has a slight similarity but isn't quite the comedic event of the film.

Ursula is born on a snowy night and then she promptly dies.  Then she's born again and lives for awhile only to die shortly after.  Once again she's born but this time she lives for awhile.  Her story goes on like this over and over again.  She has no real memory of her lives lived before only an eerie sense of deja vu.  In large part, the people all around Ursula make the same choices in their lives over and over again but Ursula changes events by making a different decision when she  has a feeling of foreboding.

Until you read a bit into the story, it is a little disorienting.  Once you get a feel for the flow of the book, it is highly enjoyable to live life with Ursula over and over again.

I highly recommend this book.