Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Bit of History/ Science and the 2016 Birth Date Thing

I haven't finished any books since my last entry. I'm working through 4 varied books, all different and enjoyable; David Adams Richards - Nights Below Station Street; Dean Koontz's - Forever Odd; Clive Cussler's - The Wrecker and Martha Grimes' The Man with a Load of Mischief. So today I'm focusing on Treasures of Use and Beauty and then posting my final Birth Date thing.

Great Historical Events

Today's excerpt covers 1794.

1794. Great whisky rebellion in Western Pennsylvania, caused by the tax levied upon whisky. A large district in Pennsylvania, where the crops of grain were over-abundant, and no adequate market except the great Monongahela distillers, openly resisted the tax by resorting to mob law. Officials and loyal citizens were whipped, branded, tarred and feathered, and great excitement prevailed in all the Northern States. The Union was imperiled, and Washington headed an army to meet the crisis. The rebellion was soon suppressed, and law and order established.
First woolen factories and carding machines in Massachusetts.

Wayne's Great Victory

Aug. - Wayne's great victory over the Indians, under 'Little Turtle.' Gen. Anthony Wayne, or 'Mad Anthony', as he was called, on account of his reckless courage, attacked the Indians upon the Maumee, in Ohio, and by his determined and impetuous charge, he routed the whole Indian force from their favorite ground, and drove them more than two miles through thick woods and fallen timber in the course of one hour, causing the to sue for peace on the conqueror's own terms. Their confederacy was completely annihilated.
Act passed for building ships of war, which laid the foundation for the present navy system.
American vessels were prohibited from supplying slaves to any other nations.
First sewing thread ever made from cotton produced at Pawtucket, Rhode Island."

Science of Common Things

In today's excerpt, the amazing Prof. L.G. Gorton discusses the causes of thunder and the big boomers.

"What is the cause of thunder? Thunder is caused by the sudden rush of air into the vacuum which the electricity, as it darts with inconceivable velocity, leaves behind it. (Ed. Comment. So the whole gods bowling in the heavens is false... Wow! Who knew?) Why is thunder sometimes loud and continuous, and at other times broken and unequal? Because it is sometimes near, and the sound from all parts of the flash reaches us at the same instant, and at other times it is at different distances from us, and consequently all the sound does not reach us at the same time. (Ed. Comment. When I was a kid (Yes, it was a few years back!) I was told that when you see lightning flash, count 1 steamboat, 2 steamboats and when you finally hear the thunder, each steamboat was equal to one mile away. There's science for you!)

We move into the realm of sound with the next excerpt. WHAT??? SOUND!!!

 The Birth Date Thing 10 November 2016

I'm all caught up!!! Now whatever will I do next? Oh well, let's get on with it.

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 2016

Closer by The Chainsmokers, ft Halsey. The Chainsmokers is an American DJ / production duo. Closer was their first US #1 single. The song featured American singer, Ashley Frangipane, AKA Halsey.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2016

Shout Out to My Ex by Little Mix. Little Mix is a UK pop group which was formed during the 8th series of UK's X-Factor. Shout to my Ex was their 4th UK #1 single.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2016

Escape Clause by John Sanford. American author Sanford is known for his Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers thrillers, amongst other stories. I've read the first two Davenport thrillers and did enjoy them. Escape Clause was the 9th book in the Flowers' series.

"The first storm comes from, of all places, the Minnesota zoo. Two large, and very rare, Amur tigers have vanished from their cage, and authorities are worried sick that they’ve been stolen for their body parts. Traditional Chinese medicine prizes those parts for home remedies, and people will do extreme things to get what they need. Some of them are a great deal more extreme than others - as Virgil is about to find out.

Then there’s the home front. Virgil’s relationship with his girlfriend Frankie has been getting kind of serious, but when Frankie’s sister Sparkle moves in for the summer, the situation gets a lot more complicated. For one thing, her research into migrant workers is about to bring her up against some very violent people who emphatically do not want to be researched. For another, she thinks Virgil’s kind of cute."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2016

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Viet Thanh Nguyen is an American - Vietnamese novelist. The Sympathizer was his debut novel.

"The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2016

Bob Dylan (USA). Robert Zimmerman, AKA Bob Dylan, is an American singer / songwriter, musician, painter and writer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.' 

Hugo Award Winner 2016

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin.  Nora Jemisin is an American author of speculative fiction. The Fifth Season is the 1st novel in her Broken Earth series.

"Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes - those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon - are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Edgar Award Winner 2016

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy.  Lori Roy is an American author from Kansas who has written 3 novels. Let Me Die in His Footsteps was her 3rd novel.

"On a dark Kentucky night in 1952, exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthdays, Annie Holleran crosses over into forbidden territory. It’s been that way since Joseph Carl Baine was hanged in 1936. But local superstition says that tonight Annie can see her future in the Baines’ well.

What she sees instead, there in the moonlight, is a dead woman. And suddenly the events of 1936, events that have twisted and shaped the lives of Annie and all her kin, are brought back into the present.

Juna will come home now, to finish what she started. And if Annie is to save herself, her family and this small Kentucky town, she must face the terrible reality of what happened all those years ago."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2016

The Sellout by Paul Beatty.  Paul Beatty is an American author and associate professor of literature at Columbia University. The Sellout was his fourth novel.

"Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens - on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles - the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake." Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes, but when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that's left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident - the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins - he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Giller Prize Winner 2016

Do Not Say that We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. Madeleine Thein is a Canadian novelist and short story writer from Vancouver, B.C. Do Not Say that We Have Nothing was her fifth work.

"Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations - those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences."

So there you go, the Birth Date feature is caught up to the present year. Not sure what I'll do next, but you'll see.. :) Take care!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Just Finished, History & Science and the Birth Date Thing.

The end of another week. Yesterday we went out to check out a house that is for sale in our neighborhood. Out of our price range but still interesting to check out. The final episode of Halt and Catch Fire was also on last night. What an excellent show it was! If you haven't seen, it's about the development of the computer industry and the internet from the perspective of 4 people who work and compete. Really great show on AMC. It should have won Emmy's. I can't understand when you see some of the shows that do win. Oh well. It's worth checking out if you want to watch an excellent dram series.

Just Finished

I finished my first horror book of October yesterday; The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. It was a slow start but once I got into it, it moved along nicely. I enjoyed a lot.

"I've never seen either of the movies based on The Phantom of the Opera by French writer, Gaston Leroux. Well, in fact, I guess I've seen one, a very loose remake starring Paul Williams, The Phantom of the Paradise, but I don't know if that counts. I've once seen the musical and enjoyed it immensely.
Having said all that, I was interested in finally trying to read the book. I had found an interesting edition published in 1985 by the Dorset Press and decided to buy it.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the story when I started it. It was a bit of a slow burn at first, with a mite of difficulty getting into the flow of the translation. But once I got going and more in depth into the story, I found the story increasingly interesting. The last half moved along at breakneck pace and there was considerable tension and excitement.
The narrator of the story is researching the stories of the 'Opera Ghost' who had haunted the Paris Opera House. He persuaded the managers to maintain Box 5 for him, demanded a payment of 20,000 francs a month for his use. (why would a ghost need money, you ask? Good question). Deaths are attributed to him, an soprano in the opera loses her voice during a show and is replaced by Christine Daae, who the 'ghost' fancies. The owners sell the opera to two new managers and ensure they are aware of the conditions of keeping the 'ghost' happy. Of course, they don't believe the stories, with consequences.
Christine has another admirer, Viscount de Changy, who tries to save her from the ghost, Erik. Along with the Persian, an old acquaintance of Erik, they two must make a mad race through the cellars of the Opera in a last ditch attempt to save Christine from the ghost / Phantom of the opera. I enjoyed the story more and more as it moved along and as we discovered more about Erik and where he came from. All in all, after a bit of a slow start, it was a most enjoyable story. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

I've started my 2nd Horror story, the 2nd book in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. That would be Forever Odd. I'm enjoying so far. Koontz does have a nice way with words and story flow.

"I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it. Odd Thomas never asked for his special ability. He's just an ordinary guy trying to live a quiet life in the small desert town of Pico Mundo. Yet he feels an obligation to do right by his otherworldly confidants, and that's why he's won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death. But when a childhood friend disappears, Odd discovers something worse than a dead body and embarks on a heart-stopping battle of will and wits with an enemy of exceptional cunning. In the hours to come there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope."

Great Historical Events

In today's excerpt we finish off 1793 with the invention of the cotton gin.

"Invention of the Cotton Gin

 Cotton gin invented by Whitney. A machine for separating seeds from cotton; an invention which revolutionized the cotton trade, and which added more to the wealth and commercial importance of the United States than any other invention of enterprise could have done at that time.
Yellow Fever first visited the United States at Philadelphia.
Automatic signal telegraph introduced and applied in New York.
Steam first applied to saw-mills in Pennsylvania by Gen. Bentham.
President's salary fixed at $25,000."

We move onto 1794 next excerpt with the Whiskey Rebellion, etc.

Science of Common Things

Professor L.G. Gorton highlights the dangers of thunder storms in today's excerpt.

"Why is it dangerous to stand near a tree during a thunder storm? Because the tree, being a high object and a good conductor of electricity, is very liable to form the conductor for the lightning. Why is it dangerous to be near a fire during a thunder storm? Because smoke and flame are conductors of electricity. Where is the safest place during a thunder storm? In the center of a dry room, away from all conductors of electricity. (Ed. Note. I was going to say in the next county, but I guess that would work too.)"

In the next excerpt we move from thunder storms to thunder itself. :)

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 2015

Canadian Decoration (CD)
2015 was a big year for me. I hit my sixth decade. My marriage to Jo reached its 13th year and I look forward to many, many more. Since I was now 60, my career with the Canadian military ended, after 41 years in the Regular and Reserve forces. I was one year from achieving my 2nd clasp on my Canadian Decoration; a medal we receive after 12 years of service and then receive a clasp for every ten years afterwards. But, hey, I now have a great retirement to look forward to with Jo. It's been great so far.. :0)

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 2015

The Hills by The Weeknd. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye is a Canadian singer / songwriter from Toronto. The Hills was his first US #1 single.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2015

Hello by Adele. This is the 2nd time that English singer / songwriter has been on my Birth Date Song list, the first was in 2011 on the US charts. Hello was 3rd UK #1. It was the lead single from her 3rd album.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2015

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. This is the 3rd year in a row that Grisham had the #1 best seller on my birthday.

"On the right side of the law - sort of - Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. His office is a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, and fine leather chairs. He has no firm, no partners, and only one employee: his heavily armed driver, who also so happens to be his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddie. Sebastian drinks small-batch bourbon and carries a gun. He defends people other lawyers won't go near: a drug-addled, tattooed kid rumored to be in a satanic cult; a vicious crime lord on death row; a homeowner arrested for shooting at a SWAT team that mistakenly invaded his house. Why these clients? Because Sebastian believes everyone is entitled to a fair trial - even if he has to bend the law to secure one."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2015

At the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  This was the 2nd novel by American writer Doerr.

"Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2015

Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus). Alexievich is a Belorussian investigative investigator and non-fiction prose writer. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time".

Hugo Award Winner 2015

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu

"Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision."

Edgar Award Winner 2015

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King.  The last book by King that I've read was Under the Dome. I may have to check this one out too.

"In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with two new, unusual allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands."

Man Booker Prize 2015

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon Jones. This was the third novel by Jamaican writer, Marlon Jones. Jones now lives in Minneapolis.

"On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert, gunmen stormed his house, machine guns blazing. The attack nearly killed the Reggae superstar, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Marley would go on to perform at the free concert on December 5, but he left the country the next day, not to return for two years."

Giller Prize Winner 2015

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis.  Alexis was born in Trinidad / Tobago, was raised in Ottawa, Ont and now resides in Toronto. Fifteen Dogs was his ninth novel.

"It begins in a bar, like so many strange stories. The gods Hermes and Apollo argue about what would happen if animals had human intelligence, so they make a bet that leads them to grant consciousness and language to a group of dogs staying overnight at a veterinary clinic. Suddenly capable of complex thought, the dogs escape and become a pack. They are torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old 'dog' ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into unfamiliar territory, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks."

One more year to review and then I've got up with the present. It will be interesting to see what my birth day in November of this year brings. Have a great week!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Just Read, New Book, History/ Science & the Birth Date Thing

It's been a beautiful day today; lots of rain last night and then sunny today. I finished a book this morning and also found a book yesterday when I went out.

New Book

In one of my previous BLog entries, my Giller Prize book was 419 by Canadian writer, Will Ferguson. I found an excellent hard copy of the book yesterday at Nearly New Books so thought I should give it a try. The synopsis can be found by clicking here.

Just Finished

I finished a book by American writer, T.V. LoCicero this morning, The Car Bomb. I enjoyed very much. My review is below.

"I will qualify this review by stating that the author, T.V. LoCicero asked me if I'd be interested in reading his first book in the 'detroit im dyin' trilogy, The Car Bomb. I'm glad that I accepted as I enjoyed the story very much.
Frank DeFauw is a top TV news reporter, a man with many demons. His oldest son had died in a boating accident a couple of years ago and he has been spiraling into a life of drinking, womanizing and possibly ruining his career and his marriage. By chance he becomes involved in a case of possible corruption in the city government. A car bombing starts off the chain of events; the bomb killing a woman and her two children. Who was the bomb meant for? The case revives DeFauw's interest in the news, in crime investigation. Another death (murder?) brings new intensity to his investigation. Is his best friend involved in corruption? Are there others?
All the while, a sleazy reporter files report after report on Frank's peccadilloes, and Frank begins receiving threats to his life and those of his family. How will Frank resolve this interesting story?
The story moves along very nicely, quickly developing the plot and the characters. The story is interesting and tense. Frank is a larger than life character, full of bluster, life and intelligence. I enjoyed the story very much and was glad to be introduced to it and to have a chance to read a new writer for me. (4 stars)"

Currently Reading

To replace the above, I'm starting a Canadian Literature story by writer, David Adams Richards, Nights Below Station Street. The synopsis is below.

"This book is the first in Richards' acclaimed Miramichi trilogy. Set in a small mill town in northern New Brunswick, it draws us into the lives of a community of people who live there, including: Joe Walsh, isolated and strong in the face of a drinking problem; his wife, Rita, willing to believe the best about people; and their teenage daughter Adele, whose nature is rebellious and wise and whose love for her father wars with her desire for independence. Richard's unforgettable characters are linked together in conflict, and in inarticulate love and understanding. Their plight as human beings is one we share."

Great Historical Events

Looking at 1792 and 1793 in today's excerpt.

"1792. May 7. - Capt. Gray, commander of the American ship Columbia, discovered the Columbia River, naming it after his ship.
Academy for the education of girls opened at Litchfield, Conn., by Miss Prime.
First daily paper established.
Oldest canals in the United States dug around the rapids in the Connecticut river, at South Hadley and Montague Falls.
1793. Washington inaugurated the second time as president, with John Adams agains as Vice-President.
Fugitive Slave Law passed.
John Hancock and Roger Sherman die."

Next entry covers the invention of the Cotton Gin.

Science of Common Things

In today's excerpt the good Prof L.G. Gorton discusses lightning.

"What is the cause of lightning? It is caused by electricity passing from the clouds to the earth. The earth and the clouds become oppositely charged, and the tension of the electricity overcomes the resistance of the air between the earth and the clouds, and passes through it. Why does it sometime take a zigzag course? So as to pass where there is the least resistance. What is heat lightning? It is an unsteady glow of lightning seen near the horizon, and is simply the reflection of lightning so distant from us as to be invisible."

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 2014

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 2014

All About the Bass by Meghan Trainor. Meghan Trainor is an American singer / songwriter. All About the Bass was her first single.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2014

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheerhan. Ed Sheerhan is an English singer / songwriter who has been active since 2004. Thinking Out Loud was his 2nd UK #1.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2014

Gray Mountain by John Grisham. This is the 2nd time in a row that Grisham has had the #1 best seller on 10 November.

"The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track - until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly."

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

"It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2014

Patrick Modiano (France). Patrick Modiano is a French novelist who was born in 1945. He was awarded his Nobel Prize in Literature 'for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation.'

Hugo Award Winner 2014

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This is the first book in Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch space opera trilogy.

"On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance."

Edgar Award Winner 2014

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger. Oddly enough, one of the group read books in my Mystery and Crime book group is another of Kreuger's books, Iron Lake. Ordinary Grace was his 14th novel.

"New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Julliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal."

Man Booker Award 2014

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. This is the sixth novel by Australian author, Richard Flanagan.

"Richard Flanagan's story - of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle's wife — journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre-war beach side hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge."

Giller Prize Winner 2014

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels.  Michaels was born in Scotland and is now based in Montreal. He is a novelist, music critic and blogger. (Hey!!! Me too!!.. Blogger anyway). Us Conductors was his debut novel.

"In a finely woven series of flashbacks and correspondence, Lev Termen, the Russian scientist, inventor, and spy, tells the story of his life to his “one true love,” Clara Rockmore, the finest theremin player in the world. In the first half of the book, we learn of Termen’s early days as a scientist in Leningrad during the Bolshevik Revolution, the acclaim he receives as the inventor of the theremin, and his arrival in 1930s New York under the aegis of the Russian state. In the United States he makes a name for himself teaching the theremin to eager music students and marketing his inventions to American companies. In the second half, the novel builds to a crescendo as Termen returns to Russia, where he is imprisoned in a Siberian gulag and later brought to Moscow, tasked with eavesdropping on Stalin himself. Throughout all this, his love for Clara remains constant and unflagging, traveling through the ether much like a theremin’s notes."

Winding this Birth Date Thing down now. 3 more years to cover. What to do when I'm finished?

Monday, 9 October 2017

Just Finished, Great History and the Birth Date Thing

It's been a nice relaxing Thanksgiving Monday. I planned to go on a run this morning but decided to take one more day off and instead go to the gym tomorrow. It's been a month or so since last time. I've got to get back into the swing with that and only run once or twice a week.

Just Finished

This morning I finished an entertaining mystery, a new author for me. The Crossword Murder is the introduction to PI Rosco Polycrates. It was a nice, cozy mystery, with very likeable characters. My review is below.

"The Crossword Murder is the first book in the Crossword Mysteries series by husband / wife team Cordelia Biddles & Steve Zettler, who write under the pseudonym Nero Blanc. I've had it for awhile and am glad that I finally read it.
PI Rosco Polycrates of Newcastle, Mass, is hired by the mother of Thompson Briephs to look into his death, as she thinks he was murdered. Briephs works as the crossword puzzle editor for the local paper and also leads a seamy life. As is quickly shown, he is being  blackmailed for something and this blackmailer might have been the murderer.
Polycrates, an ex-police investigator, looks into the death and trying to get a handle on this crossword business, asks for assistance from the editor of a rival paper, Annabella Graham. Together they continue the investigation, working through clues from a series of unpublished puzzles left by Briephs. Someone doesn't like their investigation and there are threats to Graham's life.
There is a developing relationship between Polycrates and Graham, one that they both resist, as she is married.
The investigation is interesting, the puzzle aspect a unique mystery technique. I liked both characters and how the story developed. It's definitely a cozy style mystery, reminding me somewhat of Lilian Jackson Braun's 'Cat Who... ' mysteries. Most enjoyable and a fun read. I'll keep on with this series. (3 stars)"

The remaining books in the series are -

- Two Down (2000)
- The Crossword Connection (2001)
- A Crossword to Die for (2002)
- A Crossworder's Holiday (2002)
- Corpus de Crossword (2003)
- A Crossworder's Gift (2003)
- Anatomy of a Crossword (2004)
- Wrapped up in Crosswords (2005)
- Another Word for Murder (2005)
- A Crossworder's Delight (2005)
- Death on the Diagonal (2006)

Currently Reading

I've moved from the Sleuth's sub-genre over to the Cops with my next read. American author, Martha Grimes is the creator of the Scotland Yard Inspector Richard Jury mysteries. Since 1981, she has written 23 books in the series. I've read five of the series so far but not in any particular order. I finally found a copy of the first book in the series so I'm looking forward to seeing how Jury was introduced. One interesting aspect to the series is that the books are named after a pub. The synopses of this book is below -

"Long Piddleton had always been wary of newcomers, but the quiet town was stunned when the first stranger was found dead, upended in a butt of ale in the cellar of the Man with a Load of Mischief. Then the second body appeared, swinging in place of the mechanical man above the door of the Jack and Hammer.
Suddenly Long Piddleton had good reason to be wary of everyone! Its cozy pubs and inns with their polished pewter and blazing hearths had become scenes of the most bizarre crimes. Who were the victims? And who was the murderer? A stranger? A maniac? Or the disarmingly friendly man next door?"

Great Historical Events

We finish off 1791 and commence 1792 with today's excerpt.

St. Clair's Defeat

Nov. 4. - St. Clair's defeat by the Indians. While encamped with his whole army, 2000 strong, upon a stream tributary to the Wabash, he was surprised early in the morning by a large force of Indians, under the chief 'Little Turtle'. The surprise was so complete, the troops having just been dismissed from parade, and Gen. St. Clair not being able to mount his horse, that the militia, who were first attacked, fled in utter confusion.
1792. Law passed for establishing a mint.
Congress passed an act apportioning representatives under the new census, which gave Congress 105 members.
Great opposition to the tax on whiskey."

Science of Common Things

In today's excerpt, the great and wonderful Professor L.G. Gorton talks about electricity.

"What is electricity? It is that mode of motion which is manifested by the peculiar phenomena of attraction and repulsion. It is best understood by its effects. How is the electric light produced? In two principal ways, viz., by incandescence or glow and by the electric arc. The electricity is produced either from a powerful battery or from a magneto-electric machine. In the first method the electricity passes through platinum or carbon, and heats it until it glows. In the second case, two points, usually of carbon, are separated a short distance, and the passage of the electricity over this distance, carrying with it heated particle of carbon, gives the light."

Next time we'll take a look at lightning.

The Birth Date Thing 10 November 2013

US Billboard #1Single 10 November 2013

Royals by Lorde. Lorde is a 20 year old New Zealand singer / songwriter who has been active since 2009. Royals was her first single and it reached #1 in New Zealand, Canada, Italy, the UK and US.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2013

The Monster by Eminem ft Rihanna. This is the 4th song that Eminem and Rihanna have performed together since 2010.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2013

Sycamore Row by John Grisham. This is the first of a sequence of John Grisham books that will grace this page over the next few entries.

"Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made Brigance one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier.
The second will raises far more questions than it answers. Why would Hubbard leave nearly all of his fortune to his maid? Had chemotherapy and painkillers affected his ability to think clearly? And what does it all have to do with a piece of land once known as Sycamore Row?"

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2013

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. This was American writer Johnson's second novel.

"Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts.

Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like."

Nobel Prize Laureate 2013

Alice Munro (Canada). Alice Munro is one of Canada's great writers, a specialist in the short story. I've enjoyed a few of her books. She was awarded the Nobel Laureate for Fiction as a 'master of the contemporary short story.'

Hugo Award Winner 2013

Redshirts by John Scalzi.

"Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that:
(1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces
(2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations
(3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives."

Edgar Award Winner 2013

Live by Night by Dennis LeHane. This is the 2nd book in LeHane's Coughlin series.

"Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one--neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover--can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa's Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rum-runners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2013

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.  

"It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky. Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is a brilliantly constructed, fiendishly clever ghost story and a gripping page-turner."

Giller Prize Winner 2013

Hellgoing by Lynn Coady

"A young nun charged with talking an anorexic out of her religious fanaticism toys with the thin distance between practicality and blasphemy. A strange bond between a teacher and a schoolgirl takes on ever deeper, and stranger, shapes as the years progress. A bride-to-be with a penchant for nocturnal bondage can’t seem to stop bashing herself up in the light of day."

Well, there you go. See any good books in the lists?  

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Finished Reading, Great History and the Birthday Thing


Finished Reading

I finished my first two books of October this past week.

1. Dear Fatty by Dawn French.  

"Dear Dawn French. I enjoyed my first exposure to your writing style in Dear Fatty. Note how witty I am by employing your technique for the start of each chapter. (For those that haven't read the book, each chapter starts Dear 'Someone' as you address your thoughts to a family member or dear friend) I was introduced to Dawn by my wife, who is from England. We have enjoyed so much of your humour and acting; French and Saunders, The Vicar of Dibbley, your acting in Lark Rise to Candleford, etc.
So I have been interested in reading this for quite awhile since I bought it for the missus back in 2008. I have to say that I've enjoyed this look at your life, the highs and lows. I found it especially interesting that you were a military brat like I was; my father was also in the Air Force, the Canadian Air Force, mind you. So I have an appreciation with that portion of your life; the moving around constantly, the trying to make and keep friends who you might only know for 2 or 3 years.
There were many touching and poignant moments in this book. I can't relate to it but I found those portions dealing with your father's internal struggles very touching. Your family dealt with it strongly and seems to have made the most of their lives, especially your mothers.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about your life in the Comic Strip and your development as a comic and actress. I wish there might have been more covered about that aspect of your life. All in all, it was an enjoyable read and I liked discussing with my wife, especially your references to pop culture in the UK. Thanks for the enjoyment. (3.5 stars)"

2. A Taste For Death by Peter O'Donnell

"A Taste for Death is the 4th book in the Modesty Blaise adventure / thriller series by Peter O'Donnell. I enjoyed this as much as the first three. Modesty is a strong, independent woman (think Lara Croft) who finds herself in many sticky situations and is helped to deal with them by her partner / best friend Willie Garvin. Both started out in the criminal world and have retired. Living in England and enjoying life they regularly help British spymaster, Tarrant, with various situations that need an independent, non-governmental hand.
In this story, Willie Garvin is on vacation in Panama, diving for pearls, when he comes across an attack on two women and saves one, her sister being murdered.
The enemies involved include Gabriel and McWhirter, who Modesty and Willie have battled previously. A new foe also is involved, one from Willie's past. The two, along with Modesty's beau, Stephen Collier, must travel to Algeria, to try and save blind Dinah Pilgrim and a group of archeologists, from Gabriel and Delicata (one of the more vicious villains I've met yet), risking their lives in the process.
Like the others, this is an entertaining, page turner, with strong likeable characters who you find yourself rooting for. Most enjoyable (3.5 stars)"

Currently Reading

 I've started the following books as replacements.

1. The Car Bomb by T.V. LoCicero. I received this from the author to see what I thought of it. Enjoying so far and I've just seen. 

"Detroit Nielson king Frank DeFauw hunts down the story of a judge who may be corrupt - and is one of his best friends. Booze, drugs, womanizing and a passion for the news are all part of what makes this brilliant,erratic TV anchor a major player in this deeply troubled city. Finally, Frank decides if digging out the truth about his pal the judge is worth risking his own career, family and life." 

2. The Wrecker by Clive Cussler

"1907: In a year of financial panic and labor unrest, a series of train wrecks, fires, and explosions sabotage the Southern Pacific Railroad's Cascades express line. Desperate, the railroad hires the fabled Van Dorn Detective Agency, who send in their best man, Agent Isaac Bell.
Bell quickly discovers that the saboteur is known as the Wrecker - a man who recruits poor, down-and-out accomplices to attack the railroad, and then kills them afterward. The Wrecker traverses the vast American West, striking at will and causing untold damage and loss of human life. But just who is he? And what does he want?
Whoever he is, whatever his motives, the Wrecker knows how to wreak havoc, and Bell senses that he is far from done. In fact, his quarry is building up to a grand act unlike anything ever committed before. And if Bell doesn't stop him in time, more than a railroad could bw at risk - it could be the future of the entire country."

Great Historical Events

It's been awhile since I excerpted this book. Today I'll look at the first US Census.

1791 - First Census

First census taken - population 4,000,000.
Samuel Slater, the father of cotton manufacturing in the United States, set up first machinery for spinning cotton.
United States Bank chartered by Congress with a capital of $10,000,000; stock all taken the first day.
Congress laid a tax on whisky - the first internal taxation to raise money in the United States.
 First patent issued for threshing machines.
Gen. Wayne appointed Commander-in-Chief of the American forces.
Canada divided into Upper and Lower, or afterward, East and West Canada."

Nice to see something about Canada for a change. 

Science of Common Things

Today the good Professor L.G. Gorton discusses twilight and other interesting sky phenomenon.

"What causes twilight? The bending and reflecting of light by the atmosphere. What causes the colored sky at sunset? The sun's rays are partially decomposed by the vapor that is in the atmosphere. Why does a highly colored sunset predict a storm? (Ed Note - oddly that seems to run in the face of 'red sky at night, sailor's delight) Because it shows that the air contains a great amount of moisture."

The Birth Date 10 November 2012

(Winding down now. I presume my last will be on my birthday this year) 

US Billboard #1 Single 10 November 2012

One More Night by Maroon 5. Maroon 5 is an American rock band fronted by Adam Levine. One More Night was their 3rd US #1 hit.

UK #1 Single 10 November 2012

Candy by Robbie Williams. England singer / songwriter has had success as both a member of pop group Take That and as a solo performer. Candy was his 7th UK #1. It was written by Williams, Gary Barlow and Terje Olsen.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller 10 November 2012

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell.  This is the 20th book in Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta forensic mystery series.

"A woman has vanished while digging a dinosaur bone bed in the remote wilderness of Canada. Somehow, the only evidence has made its way to the inbox of Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta, over two thousand miles away in Boston. She has no idea why. But as events unfold with alarming speed, Scarpetta begins to suspect that the paleontologist’s disappearance is connected to a series of crimes much closer to home: a gruesome murder, inexplicable tortures, and trace evidence from the last living creatures of the dinosaur age.

When she turns to those around her, Scarpetta finds that the danger and suspicion have penetrated even her closest circles. Her niece Lucy speaks in riddles. Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI forensic psychologist and husband, Benton Wesley, have secrets of their own. Feeling alone and betrayed, Scarpetta is tempted by someone from her past as she tracks a killer both cunning and cruel.

Pulitzer Prize Winner 2012

There was no winner in 2012.

Nobel Prize Laureate 2012

Mo Yan (China). Mo Yan is a Chinese novelist and short story writer. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work as a writer "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary"

Hugo Award Winner 2012

Among Others by Jo Walton.  

"Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead.

Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…"

Edgar Award Winner 2012

Gone by Mo Hayder.  I've read a couple of the Jack Caffery books, Birdman and The Treatment, and enjoyed very much.

"November in the West Country.
Evening is closing in as murder detective Jack Caffery arrives to interview the victim of a car-jacking. He's dealt with routine car-thefts before, but this one is different. This car was taken by force. And on the back seat was a passenger. An eleven-year-old girl. Who is still missing. Before long the jacker starts to communicate with the police: 'It's started,' he tells them. 'And it ain't going to stop just sudden, is it?' 

And Caffery knows that he's going to do it again. Soon the jacker will choose another car with another child on the back seat. Caffery's a good and instinctive cop; the best in the business, some say. But this time he knows something's badly wrong. Because the jacker seems to be ahead of the police - every step of the way..."

Man Booker Prize Winner 2012

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This is the 2nd book in the planned trilogy dealing with the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VIII. The first book won the award in 2009.

Giller Prize Winner 2012

419 by Will Ferguson.

"A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?

On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.

Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ...”

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever.."

So there you go. It's been fun getting back to this. There are still a few to go. Enjoy your holiday weekend, if you're having one. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails