First of all, I. SLEPT. Woo with a side order of hoo. I'd gone to bed around 1:15 and slept until 10:15. It felt amazing. Then I got to be lazy all day long. Exchanged e-mails with church-John. I had to laugh, because the resto we visited yesterday commented on my FB post. So I commented back. Mentioned how much blind old moi appreciated the fact that they put their menus on their website. Also signed up for a book club at my vision loss group. Our first meeting will be at the end of October. On a weekday. Mid morning. All are eminently doable.

Continued reading my latest Sawyer book that is captivating ... about the existence of the last conscious thought that apparently houses the soul as it escapes the confines of the dying body.

Reverted back to old behaviours as I drifted off during the 6:00 p.m. news. Oops. Managed to watch most of WoF and all of Jeopardy! Then was confronted by the wasteland of no new premieres on TV. So I'm listening to songbirds. So very pretty and soothing.

I think I'm headed to bed, as I'm yawning (an excellent sign, believe me). I'll try to read for a while (though it's harder to absorb philosophical and biological principles when I'm sleepy). I can't believe tomorrow is already Friday. Just where did my week go?
helenkacan: (Default)
( Sep. 1st, 2017 10:56 pm)
39-40. Mack, Paul
Star Trek: The Body Electric
Star Trek: Silent Weapons

The other books in the trilogy. I've already forgotten most of the details of the stories, but remember that the books were inferior to the first book. Oh, wait. Wesley Crusher popped in from his interstellar, interphasic wanderings as a Traveler in one of them. Picard also gets extremely protective of his young son and wife (Beverly, in case anyone cares). I'm beginning to remember that the third book was about an enormous machine with delusions of immortality (it believed that making a copy of a machine's operating system and incorporating it into itself meant it lived forever while the original smaller elements could actually be destroyed) that was making it possible for a black hole to swallow up galaxies, eventually leading to the destruction of subspace. In TOS, you know that Kirk would have disabled the machine by tricking it with an illogical conundrum. But, hey, computers aren't as gullible as they were in the 60s!

41. Shetterly, Margo Lee
Hidden Figures

Reading this book was the highlight of my month. Imagine how timely it was to finally get the book from my Holds just as Charlottesville was happening. Is it cruel irony to learn that this city had been one of a handful in Virginia that HAD desegregated its schools. I read in horror of the Lost Generation, the young black students whose educations were cut short when the State of Virginia simply closed down ALL public schools for five(?) years rather than obey the desegregation law. Naturally, white kids from wealthier families were able to enrol in private schools.

It was fascinating, on the other hand, to read how desperate the Air Force (later NASA) was to recruit young women with science degrees during/after WWII to work as "computers" in its aeronautics (later aerospace) division.

The movie was based on the author's book but, as she explained, many events had to be smushed together and generations glossed over. It's no wonder that I was confused by the identities of the primary characters, thinking them to be contemporaries when they weren't.

I'll probably borrow the book again. I'm still in awe at the brilliance of these women and how many of them strived to move into the category of engineer and project director rather than being slotted as mathematician (even if they were finally publishing their own papers).

42. Longo, Jennifer
Up to this Pointe

The author was a ballerina for a dozen years and used her experience to create the foundation of the book. The rest was sheer imagination, as she causes the protagonist to go hide in the Antarctic for the entire winter, using slight descent from Scott as the hook. While near the Pole, she is visited by the ghost of Shackleton (actually, Vitamin D deficiency) and creates a new vision for the rest of her life involving her original passion for ballet while incorporating her newly-found skills in grant writing to make ballet accessible and possible to all children, regardless of their families' ability to pay.

43. DePrince, Michaela
Ballerina Dreams

This was an inspirational picture book for little girls based on this woman's real life story. She was an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leona who was adopted by an American family. She'd always dreamt of becoming a ballerina. Her new family supported her goals. Despite her fears of not fitting the stereotypical look of a ballerina (vitilago spots on her dark skin), she eventually succeeded and danced with two world-renowned ballet companies.

44. Longo, Jennifer
Six Feet Over It

Having enjoyed the author's first book so much, I decided to borrow the second one, also based on the author's personal life. Here the protagonist is a high schooler whose parents have bought a graveyard inland from the ocean (taking her away from her old life in Mendocino though her hippy painter mother still manages to escape there with regularity), where she is coerced to work in the office. Her older sister is a cancer survivor. The protagonist has this odd superstition that she can have only one friend. As she had to care for her sister (who survived), she had to give up her closest friend (who died). She finds – to her horror – that the best friend is buried in their graveyard! She meets all sorts of new people associated with the graveyard: the family that provides flowers, also a potential new best friend for her (whom she mostly rejects, always thinking of the superstition), as well as a boyfriend for her sister, and the mysterious young Mexican man hired to be the groundskeeper. Just as in the other book, by the end the protagonist undergoes a healing, life-affirming acceptance of herself ... and relinquishes her obsession with superstition.

45-46. Christie, Agatha
A Body in the Library
A Caribbean Mystery

Oddly enough, both books used hair bleach (Miss Marple is ever so observant) and mistaken identity (intentional in the first and accidental in the second) in the murders. Still, a little tired of reading odd, stilted (and nowadays offensive) English expressions.
34. West, Lindy

Lindy is that female voice that refused to conform to societal standards: less than, a quiet girl, a good girl, and – above all – thin. After leaving The Stranger, she's written for a number of publications. I'm going to reread before I have to return it.

35-37. Jennings, Maureen
Murdoch Mysteries: Poor Tom's Cold
Murdoch Mysteries: Let Loose The Dogs
Murdoch Mysteries: Night's Child

Maureen was born in England in 1939 and emigrated to Canada. I didn't know what to expect when I borrowed these three books. I'm not sure if there are more available, but I certainly don't care to check. Why not? Well, the tone of the books is heavy and the murders are gruesome. In the TV series, there is still a lot of darkness and emphasis on societal inequality, but nothing to the extent of what's in these books. Here, Murdoch resents that he'll never be named as detective because of his Roman Catholicism. And Brackenreid is really portrayed as a pompous buffoon. So the primary attraction for reading these books for me was all the little details of the Toronto of yesteryear.

38. Mack, Paul
Star Trek: The Persistence of Memory

My BFF recommended this book to me. Imagine my frustration to get to the end, only to find out that it was the MIDDLE book of a trilogy. So, yes, I've borrowed the bookends, but haven't begun reading them yet.

This book is set in the Next Gen universe featuring Worf as Picard's promoted No. 1 a few years down the road after Riker has FINALLY assumed command of his own ship. There's a new enemy that seems to have many advantages that totally baffle Starfleet. How did someone access the special facility that houses Noonien Soong AI models and steal them? Where did the perp or perps beam them to? After the planet is locked down, is there an invisible vessel that's been able to take off without leaving any trace? Just one problem after another. First, the Enterprise has to find out HOW the theft was committed and HOW to find where they are now. Even after they're located, the Enterprise has to overcome all sorts of seemingly impenetrable defences. But the good guys prevail, though not without gut-wrenching loss.

The list is a lot shorter. I blame the heat and wonky eyesight days. Also, I decided to reread No.33: "Rogue One" which was long. Let's see how August goes.
25. DeFede, Jim
The Day The World Came To Town

Such an uplifting account blending many voices of the real people (those whose airplanes had been stranded and the residents and institutions throughout Newfoundland) who were thrown together on 9/11, when 38 planes landed in Gander. I was so overcome with emotion, that I reread it before I had to return it.

26. Goldsborough, Robert
Murder In E Minor

My first Nero Wolfe (and sidekick Archie) book. Don't know whether I'll read another one. 'Nuff said.

27. Gaiman, Neil

My first Gaiman novel. It'll be a while before I try another one, though I'd hope if I do I'll find a different sensibility. I had a really hard time with the violence of life "below" – even if it gave the protagonist everything he'd been lacking above in his so-far lacklustre life. But, especially after "Life of Pi", I just couldn't handle the rawness.

28. Truman, Margaret
Murder at the Opera

Yes, I checked. She was the daughter of Harry S. and lived in the White House for a few years. Didn't check for sure, but it seems as if all of her mysteries were set in the D.C. area. This one was weird, involving an al-Qaeda plot, stupid young musicians (from Toronto!), their deceptive musical agents (also from Toronto!), who got involved (the former inadvertently) in a plot to kill as many U.S. politicians on a single day with the pinnacle being the Pres. attending the opera and opera ball. Add loathsome spy handlers, people getting bumped off left and right (including suicide). No, I don't think I'll read any of her other ... mysteries.

29. Mitchell, Gladys
Death at the Opera

This was an odd, quirky story, set in a coeducational day school in England. The eventual victim, one of the schoolmistresses who funds the performance of "The Mikado" by the staff, is someone nobody really liked, even though she was an inoffensive creature. But her performance of Katisha was so unpleasant during the dress rehearsal that the ancient makeup artist (a former performer herself) decided to make things right by drowning her in the restroom between acts, thereby allowing the truly melodious understudy to continue on in the role. Lots of red herrings including a student who'd posed nude on school grounds for a sculpture by the arts master ... and other drownings.

30. Myron, Vicki
Dewey (the library cat)

Oh, my paws and whiskers. How I cried at the end of the book at the death of this cat after having read of all his triumphs and setbacks, his cattish ways and how he affected the lives of so many in one small town, eventually acquiring global renown. Added to this were the autobiographical hardships in the author's life (personal, financial, medical) that left me grateful that she'd had the companionship of this particular cat during his life (except for about eight weeks following his birth).

31. Peters, Ellis
Funeral of Figaro

A fascinating tale of an opera company, whose director (captain) and many of the staff (his former crew) had served on the same vessel during the war. "Marriage of Figaro" is but one of several operas the company is presenting. The singer playing Figaro is a despicable man (and it gets worse as we continue reading to the extent that we're basically glad someone killed him). He is murdered during a performance setting up many alibis. There are many suspects, including the director's daughter who'd been accepting Figaro's attentions and the woman who'd been married to Figaro (he'd used a different name and was willing to have her captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp; yes, a real charmer, NOT). Add to the mix a police inspector who's trying to match the murder weapon (the "ornamental" sword worn by the director's daughter) to the most likely suspect. Lots of twists and turns, including an attempt on the inspector's life, to keep the reader entertained.

32. Siciliano, Sam
The Angel of the Opera
(the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes)

A strange mashup of the familiar Phantom story with touches of Holmesian capacity to solve a problem (actually two) neatly while exhibiting unexpected humanity and compassion for the Phantom. This is the author's response to the "What if" question. Well worth the read, even if you're getting bored by reading about the shallowness of the Viscount and Christine's obsession tinged with a religious fervor.

33. Freed, Alexander
Star Wars: Rogue One

Oh, how I wish I'd read this before or shortly after seeing the movie. There were too many characters so I had trouble telling them apart on screen (okay, so, yes, there were those that couldn't be anyone else: Jyn, K-2, Chirrut) ... but the rest are a blur in my mind. The book is huge because EVERYBODY gets their thoughts dissected.
helenkacan: (Default)
( Jun. 1st, 2017 11:12 am)
13. Christensen, Elizabeth
SGA-07: Casualties of War

I believe this was the only Atlantis book in the system, so thought I should read it (even though I was hoping to find the Legacy series). It was a good read, though terrific fanfic has spoiled me in this !Verse. There was a good mix of team in handling the emergency-du-jour.

14. Weir, Andy
The Martian

I so loved this book and am thrilled for the author's success. I'm always intrigued by the differences between an adapted screenplay following an original work. No kidding where the screenwriter assured us (in the extra features on the movie disc) he'd been diligent in staying as faithful as possible to the book. Actually, there were a few minor points in the book that were changed in the movie for far greater impact! Though I could have done without all the extreme danger (with the looping tether) in the rescue scene. Still, I enjoyed reading the mostly first-person journal so much that I renewed it, so I could read it again.

15. Ondaatje, Michael
In the skin of a lion

Even though I endured his "English Patient", I was still curious to read this book. OMG. It was almost completely unbearable with one rare saving grace. The author is so obsessed with very vivid and precise descriptions, painting with words as it were, but the effect is marred because that's what the entire book was like. Read more... )

16-18. Marsh, Charis
Love You, Hate You
You're So Sweet
I Forgot To Tell You

After the brain-wrenching effort of finishing Ondaatje, I needed a break. I put "ballet" in the search box and got these three easy reads. They're part of a series about students at a ballet academy in Vancouver, B.C. Much of the books revolved around regular teen problems and behaviours (crushes, cattiness despite avowing BFF-ness, skipping classes, dropping out of school, bulimia, deceiving self and parents) overlaid with the intensity of the ballet world, especially with competitive parents added to the mix.

Despite a lot of toxic behaviour and situations, there is one redeeming message where several of the dancers feel sorry for the general population that will never know what it feels like to fully use every single muscle of their bodies.

19. Braun, Lillian Jackson
The Cat Who Had 14 Tales

After the ballet series, I turned to mysteries. It was easy to move to the author of "The Cat Who" series. When I still had my vision, I remember devouring these books on a regular basis. As I wasn't sure where to begin (it would make sense to start where I'd left off), I decided to reread this anthology. Some stories were better than others. An easy read.

20-23. Fletcher, Jessica
Manhattans & Murder
Design for Murder
Murder on the QE2
Murder in a Minor Key

So, obviously, not "written" by the TV detective character. I just thought I'd coast through some mysteries. Felt definitely queasy when reading about crossing the North Atlantic via the QE2. Felt the most emotion when I finished the last one, with a tear rolling down my face. The victim had been a passionate gay man who was obsessed with finding the mythical wax cylinders of recordings by a deceased New Orleans musical legend. But he was the third man to fall prey to the killer. He was honoured with a "Jazz Funeral" at the end. Though I'd once wanted to visit Nola, just reading about how unbearably hot and humid it was made me feel lucky that I'd never been, despite my love of the food and certain types of music (like Zydeco).

24. Martel, Yann
The Life of Pi

Odd book, didn't really grab my attention. But there were some parts that intrigued me. The first was how Pi decided to follow three religions: the expected Hinduism, but also Christianity, and Islam. Why? Well, he was just trying to find God ... to the confusion of his parents and consternation of his spiritual mentors. The second was when his family was deciding to relocate to Canada, Winnipeg to be exact, which Pi described as having "minus-two-hundred-degree winters". Ha! I loved it. The third was when he was in the lifeboat, now only with the tiger as foe/companion and I was informed that "only small cats purr breathing both ways" – inhaling and exhaling.

Read more... )

AAAAAAAAAAAND that wraps up May. I'm really happy about the number of books I got through, using both the iPad or the desktop when the iPad was recharging.
Here we go with a second month of reading for pleasure:

6. Huff, Tanya
Smoke & Ashes

WHY: Last book in the trilogy, so I wanted to finish it.
PET PEEVE: Sloppy editing and rookie errors really shocked me. Example: the hotel is referred to as Sheraton (something or other) but a couple pages later it's now "Sheridan". Seriously? You can't even keep that little amount of continuity. There were petty grammar errors, too. Sigh.

7. Wheatley, Dennis
Uncharted Seas

WHY: It was listed as one of three "lost worlds" novels so I decided to read it.
PET PEEVE: The casual sexism (women being referred to as girls, even when they've been married) and unbelievable misogyny (the Belgian engineer promoted to Captain upon that man's death feels he's being trifled with when he learns the object of his affections has been sleeping with a Venezuelan man, not understanding that the latter has blackmailed her into that situation; the Belgian accuses her, breaks the internal bolt to her cabin, locks her in, then hands the key over to the Venezuelan who's been taking a shift belowdecks after crew and ship troubles, basically condoning the woman's rape).
Add to that the racism and classism of the times. The survivors have to avoid the island populated by the Black Devils (who'd already attacked them on the ship). These men have a reputation for killing white men, capturing white women and enslaving them in the so-called "Marriage House" where, of course, they can rape them at will. Yet, despite the alleged superiority of the ship's Captain and passengers, they exhibit just as much brutality toward women (the Venezuelan demonstrates his obsession constantly over one of the women; the rape-enabling engineer).

8. Wheatley, Dennis
The Man Who Missed The War

WHY: The last of the three "lost world" books. This one may have been the weirdest of the lot.
PET PEEVE: Where do I start? A man associated with the British Navy is a passenger on a ship leaving the U.S. bound for Britain, towing one of his inventions - strings of rafts holding containers meant to use the ocean current to replenish supplies for the British war effort. He finds a woman stowed away on the lead raft after he's intercepted plans by the Nazi collaborator aboard to kill him, setting the rafts and powered tug free. Naturally, there's a lot of arguing with the woman, including each harming the other physically until they declare a truce. They end up close to Britain but cannot get to shore, so end up drifting down to the African coast. After more misadventures, they decide to take off on the rafts again, hoping the current will lead them to South America. Instead they end up in Antarctica where they're caught in a war between the weak valley dwellers and the evil descendants of Atlanteans ::rolls eyes:: who have special powers which, through human sacrifice, allow them to affect the course of history, especially by directing stormy weather. They can also infiltrate anywhere in the world and see what's happening on their magic screens. Even better (worse?), these bad guys have sided with the Nazis. So the protagonist and his female companion have to try to sabotage anything that will hurt the Allies. It's been less than a month since I read this and I can't even remember how it ended. Enough said.

9. Huff, Tanya
Blood Debt

WHY: I wanted to keep reading in the Blood Ties series.
PET PEEVE: I wasn't expecting the book to be set in Vancouver and couldn't remember when Henry had moved there.

10. Huff, Tanya
Blood Path

WHY: Because I couldn't remember things moving to Vancouver, I needed to reread how Vicky got turned into a vampire. I'd totally forgotten about the theft of her mother's corpse being why she had to be in Kingston ... and everything that led to her being turned (with Celucci thinking he'd lost her forever).
PET PEEVE: Not about this book, but I'm irritated to learn that the final book in the series - Blood Bank - is not available for loan, either in print or as an ebook. There is ONE copy for reference use only at our SF library branch. Boo.

11. Tuerff, Kevin
Channel of Peace

WHY: The real-life recollections of one of the passengers diverted to Gander, Nfld on 9/11. Very real, yet very uplifting (especially when he gets back to his company in Texas and begins promoting Pay It Forward projects). He is also a character in the hit Broadway musical based on the events: "Come From Away".

12. Ondaatje, Michael
The English Patient

WHY: Because I hadn't read it yet, even though he includes lots of Canadian references and characters in his writing.
PET PEEVE: Hideously difficult to read. Not linear. Characters just appear out of the blue. Tons of historical references (in Britain, Italy, and Egypt) and mentions of aspects of life in Toronto (and other places in the province) that readers wouldn't necessarily relate to. So, if you get a couple of them, you're ahead of the game. It was very slow reading because there were no "filler" sentences. And the raw, often hateful, emotions were difficult to digest.

And that's a wrap for April. No wonder I'm exhausted. Now on to my SGA novel and ::squees:: "The Martian".
I'm thrilled to be starting a monthly summary of the books I've read (it still gives me chills to know that I'm READING BOOKS once again) - as well as any pertinent comments.

1. Brooklyn
Toibin, Colm

WHY: First book I borrowed based on library recommendation. Story of a young Irish woman moving to Brooklyn after WWII and her convoluted life possibly aggravated by her passive character.

2. Inferno
Brown, Dan

WHY: Because, occasionally, it's fun to read (and read and read; he sure loves to churn out the pages) books with improbable links to be found within religious symbols.

3. Smoke & Shadows
Huff, Tanya

WHY: Because I loved her Blood.... series, especially (royal) vampire police detective Henry Fitzroy, though I have very little familiarity with the new setting in Vancouver (having visited there only once). Also, one of my FB friends had recc'd the series.

4. Smoke & Mirrors
Huff, Tanya

WHY: Second of three books in the series. Oddly, I don't even remember Tony's character from the Blood series but I like his misadventures as a fledgling wizard.

5. They Found Atlantis
Wheatley, Dennis

WHY: I had a thing in the early 1970s for reading everything Wheatley had written. However, even though the paperbacks were very popular, they began disappearing (out of print). When I saw this title, I thought it was one I hadn't read yet; but, when I began reading it, I started remembering certain details (the cousins doing a switcheroo to deter fortune-hunters pursuing the real heiress; the immature American crooner turned movie star not understanding the moral code on Atlantis regarding sexual behaviour, also being greedy enough to steal some golden plates). The final reason? It had "Atlantis" in the title. Yeah, bite me! Oh, the positively, absolutely last reason (I promise) for reading other than seeking Atlantis, a former Naval Officer usually introduced as "the great McKay"!!!
PET PEEVE: I was intrigued to see how much more discerning I'd become over the decades. Upon first reading, I hadn't paid that much attention to the dialogue but, this time, I was horrified to see an illogical syntactical hodgepodge when spoken by the characters: the American cousins, a Romanian prince, a Norwegian count, an American crooner/actor, various bad guys including one who was an Oxford graduate. For my greater sensitivity, I credit reading fanfic ... especially bad fanfic. Who knew? Also, just being more worldly. DADT, okay???


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