Advanced Tattoo Art

Mitchel, Doug. Advanced (Revised) Tattoo Art: How-to Secrets from the Masters. Stillwater, MN: Wolfgang Publications, 2013.

Originally published in 2006 to mediocre reviews on Amazon, this is Mitchel’s “take two” on Advanced Tattoo Art. I’m not sure this one is much better. The front covers boasts secrets such as how to find and size the art, proper skin prep, use of a stencil, blending colors, and more. However, the “manual” isn’t indexed so if you are interested in learning about only one of these techniques, it would be a scavenger hunt to find it. Take “proper skin prep” for example. I *think* I found the secret to proper skin prep on page 155 where the skin is wiped down with an unnamed sanitizing solution and shaved. No big secret there since every tattoo artist should sanitize the area and shave it clean. Since I am not a tattoo artist, I don’t know how informative this “how-to” really is. The photography is okay and the art displayed is alright. Nothing jumps out as being particularly fantastic or eye-catching. The best feature of the book is each bio on the artist. Giving them a piece of the spotlight was really clever. It gave them an opportunity to share their secret, why they got into tattooing in the first place.

Reason read: chosen as an early review book for librarything….

A Falcon Flies

Smith, Wilbur. A Falcon Flies. Read by Stephen Thorne. Hampton: BBC Audiobooks America, 1980.

A Falcon Flies opens with Dr. Robyn Ballantyne sailing to southern Africa on a mission. She hopes to bring medical aid and Christianity to the people of her birthplace, single handedly bring an end to the slave trade, and find her famous-yet-missing missionary father. Along for the ride is her brother, Zouga. Once in Africa, Zouga plays a big part in solving the mystery of his missing father while Robyn is distracted with the attention of different men. Luckily, this only occurs in the beginning of the book. Subsequently, Robyn becomes a fierce, brave, independent woman, hellbent on finding her father and delivering kindness to every native she meets.
Wilbur Smith’s style of writing is, at times, soap-opera exaggerated. Robyn’s emotions are extremely dramatic. Once I was able to accept this bewilderment as fact I was able to enjoy the book that much more. Since it goes on for over 500 pages, this was a good thing!

As an aside: For me, personally, there is something positively creepy about a man writing about desiring a man from a woman’s point of view. I don’t know what it is, but the sexual tension scenes in A Falcon Flies seemed over the top. Smith’s description of Captain Mungo St. John’s body from Dr. Robyn Ballantyne’s point of view was a little ridiculous. Ballantyne is attracted and repelled by the captain, but you know which side wins out. The scene with her waiting in the captain’s bedchambers with pistols drawn is a little silly. Maybe I should read more bodice-rippers in an effort to get used to such high-fainting drama.

I find it increasingly frustrating to listen to an audio book that skips all the time. As a librarian, I feel it is my moral responsibility to loan material that is pleasurable to the patron. I would have deaccessioned this audio book a longtime ago!

Reason read: Shangani Day (December 4th) was an official holiday in Rhodesia, back in 1895. Read in honor of that day.

Author fact: Smith has quite the flashy website here. It was fun to poke around.

Book trivia: A Falcon Flies was published in the United States as Flight of the Falcon.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Zipping Through Zimbabwe/Roaming Rhodesia” (p 269).

Sword at Sunset

Sutcliff, Rosemary. Sword at Sunset. NewYork: Coward-McCann, 1963.

The fifth century is not always the easier time period to lose yourself in, but the writing of Rosemary Sutcliff is the exception. Her vivid imagination combined with great storytelling brings Artos the Bear to life. I will admit, I am not an avid reader of Arthurian tales. I do not have the details of the legend down-pat and would not know where Sutcliff takes artistic liberty. Probably the best part about Sword at Sunset is the personality of its hero, Artos the Bear. His complex character as a warrior and companion is crystal clear and believable, and dare I say, attractive? I think I would date him…In times of battle all of his decisions are calculated and fair. I especially liked his reaction to Minnow’s news that he must leave the company to marry a merchant’s girl who is with child. His reasoning is just. I also liked his treatment of animals, particularly his taming of a fallen commander’s wolfhound. The scenes of battle are appropriate and gut-wrenching. And speaking of gut-wrenching, the final betrayals by Bear’s best friend and son are tragic. I won’t say more because, unlike myself, you’ve always known how it ends.

Quotes to ponder, “The taste of vomit was in my very soul, and a shadow lay between me and the sun” (p 53). I think this was fancy way of saying “dread.” More quotes: “To go into battle drunk is a glory worth experiencing, but it does not make for clear and detailed memory” (p 200), “In war and in the wilderness one easily loses count of time” (p 256), “A wonderful thing is habit” (p 328), and one more, “Silence took us by the throat” (p 443). I especially like that last line the best.

Reason read: Legend has it King Arthur was born in December. If that isn’t true, Rosemary Sutcliff was born in December as well. So, read in someone’s honor.

Author fact: Rosemary Sutcliff’s website (blog page) is a pleasure to peruse.

Book trivia: Sword at Sunset continues the story where The Lantern Bearers leaves off only The Lantern Bearers is not on my list.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in two chapters; the first called “King Arthur” (p 136) and the second called “My Own Private Dui” (p 166).

Yoga for Runners

Felstead, Christine. Yoga for Runners. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2014.

I loved this book so much I’m calling it my yoga bible. As a runner frequently plagued by injury, I was hopeful Felstead’s book would help me run with less pain. Notice I didn’t say “without pain.” This is not a miracle cure for those of us with hips and knees constantly out of alignment. But, having said all that, I took a long time to write the review for Yoga for Runners because I wanted to spend some time actually trying out the sequences more than once, especially the hour-long ones. Eager to get right to it, I had to rein myself in and actually read the chapters leading up to the sequences. Go figure. But, I’m glad I did. Each chapter builds upon the next, complete with photographs and testimonials. Each pose is broken down and thoroughly explained so that when you do (finally!) get to the sequences you have a better idea of what you are supposed to be doing (which is a good thing because holding the book open while trying to practice the entire sequence is nearly impossible. In fact, trying to read and move at the same time is the only drawback to Yoga for Runners. I ended up putting an 8-pound weight on the spine to keep the book open. I know, I know. Not good. I would have preferred a spiral bound book that lays flat when opened or, as someone else mentioned, a DVD to accompany the text.
But, back to the good stuff. The post-run sequence is easily my favorite go-to. It’s only 5-10 minutes long so there’s no excuse to skip it. My second favorite sequence is the maintenance routine. It’s over an hour long, but each pose is essential so your time is not wasted. The flow from pose to pose works well for all sequences. I know a runner who is a better yogi than runner. I would be curious to get her take on Yoga for Runners since she has been combining the two activities for years.

Reason read: this was sent to me as an Early Review selection, courtesy of LibraryThing.

Housekeeper and the Professor

Ogawa, Yoko. The Housekeeper and the Professor. Translated by Stephen Snyder. New York: Picador, 2009.

Told from the point of view of the unnamed housekeeper, The Housekeeper and the Professor is a beautiful yet complex tale about an unlikely relationship. She is a single mother to a ten year old boy, cleaning the house of a once-brilliant professor. He is a mathematician who suffered a traumatic head injury that has left him with a memory that lasts only 80 minutes at a time. It’s an unusual predicament. The housekeeper must reintroduce herself to the professor every day she comes to cook and clean for the man. If she is at his tiny bungalow more than 80 minutes she must reintroduce herself in the same day. To try to compensate for his lack of memory, the professor has pinned notes about his life to help him cope. Included in his notes are details about the housekeeper and her son who the professor calls, “Root.” Despite the obvious obstacles the professor and the housekeeper develop a beautiful friendship. At the “root” of their relationship is ten year old Root, baseball, and the undying love for a left-handed pitcher.

Line that bothered me to no end, “He traced the symbol in the thick layer of dust on his desk” (p 1). This bothered me because the title of the book is The Housekeeper and the Professor. The housekeeper is speaking about the professor’s desk. Hello? Shouldn’t the desk be rid of dust if she is the housekeeper or does the definition of housekeeping differ in Japan?

As an aside, it was interesting to read two different books that have a left-handed pitcher in the plot.

Reason read: Emperor Akihot was born in the month of December.

Author fact: Ogawa also wrote The Diving Pool which is not on my list to read but seems like the better book because the back of The Housekeeper and the Professor has praise for The Diving Pool.

Book trivia: The Housekeeper and the Professor is short, only 180 pages long.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Japanese Journeys” (p 117).

Eighth Day

Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day. New york: Harper & Row, 1967.

In the beginning John Ashley came from New York, hired as a maintenance engineer to repair and fortify the mines of Coaltown, Illinois. Breckenridge Lansing was the managing director of the mines. This is how their paths would cross, innocently enough. Their paths would uncross when John shoots Breckenridge in the back of the head. Simple enough. After John is convicted and is on his way to be executed for the crime he somehow escapes. For the first part of the book we follow John’s trek to Chile where he resumes his mine work. The rest of the book follows the lives of the people he left behind: his wife and children, Breck’s widow and children. While the story meanders through philosophy and religion, the storyline is clear. There is something definitely amiss about this murder. John claims he is innocent and yet he was the only one with a gun.

Quotes I liked, “Gossip had solidified into convection as prejudice solidifies into self-evident truth” (p 5) and “The people of lower Illinois are not given to superstition; they did not say the house was haunted, but it was know that “The Elms” had been built in spite, maintained in hatred, and abandoned in tragedy” (p 26).

Reason read: the beginning of The Eighth Day takes place in Illinois and Illinois became a state in December.

Author fact: Wilder died in Hamden, Connecticut. According to FindAGrave, he is buried in New Haven.

Book trivia: The Eighth Day won a National Book Award.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “100 good Reads, Decade By Decade (1960s)” (p 175).

It Looked Like Forever

Harris, Mark. It Looked Like Forever. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

This is the last Henry Wiggen story. This time when we meet up with Henry, he is a flagging veteran, just let go as lefty pitcher for the New York Mammoths. In this day and age he would have been traded years ago, but in the world of Mark Harris, Wiggen hangs on. He still wants to play, even if it means playing in an obscure Japanese town no one can find on a map, or as a relief pitcher anywhere else. However, Henry is now 39 years old with looming health and family issues. His prostate is squawking and his daughter, Hilary, is a screamer; she screams for no apparent reason. Henry has to adjust to being a normal citizen without the perks he once had as a famous athlete (although, interestingly enough, he didn’t know what being famous actually meant). A good portion of the story is Henry trying to get back into baseball while at the same time trying to mollify his screaming daughter.

Two quotes that gave me a chuckle, “Do not read pornographic literature as it causes excitement without gratification, which is bad for the prostate gland” (p 54), and “No, she had 100’s of photos of me including photos of me with my eyes poked out with her hole making machine from the office and photos of me pasted on top of photos of various people on the obituary page of the paper” (p 105).

Reason read: This is the final book in the Henry Wiggen saga. I started it in October in honor of the World Series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Yay Red Sox!

Author fact: Harris wasn’t limited to writing fiction about baseball. He also wrote many nonfictions, including one about Saul Bellow.

Book trivia: The dedication in It Looked Like Forever is cute: “For Henry Adam Harris, who once complained that no book has been dedicated to him…”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” (p 229).