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).


Now Read This II

Pearl, Nancy. Now Read This II: a guide to Mainstream Fiction, 1990 – 2001. Greenwood village, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 2002.

Now Read This II is set up much like Now Read This I and why shouldn’t it be? The first one was a success. Like the first Now Read This the second is broken up into four different sections: setting, story, characters and language. The wealth of information about each title is still there: title, author, publisher, date of publication, brief abstract, second appeal, subject list, other recommendations, Oprah selection, good for book groups, and whether or not is was a prize winner. Like the first NRT I am intrigued by the titles and wish I could add them to my challenge.

Reason read: This is the second half of the Now Read This series

Author fact: I’m sure this is news to no one. Nancy Pearl has her own action figure, complete with shushing capabilities.

Book trivia: I particularly liked the section on how to hold a book group discussion.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter acknowledgments (p xi).


Civil Action

Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Confessional: this was my third attempt to read this. The first two times I got bogged down by the legalese of it all, but for some reason the third time was a charm. Because this was a Hollywood movie (one I didn’t see, of course) I was expecting a different ending. This is the tragic but true story about a group of Woburn, Massachusetts citizens and the lawsuit they filed against two major companies for dumping what they believed to be cancer-inducing chemicals into their drinking water. Instantly, I think of 10,000 Maniacs and their song, “Poison in the Well.” I don’t think it was written for or about Woburn but it’s eerily similar. Residents in the song and of Woburn know their water “tastes funny” and during certain times of the year they avoid consumption of it all together. Some go so far as to complain loudly, but time and time again they are told the levels of toxins are negligible and there is nothing to worry about. It’s only after Anne Anderson’s child develops leukemia, and Anderson starts to notice multiple cases of the rare disease in her hometown, that she decides to hire an attorney, JanĀ  Schlichmann. The rest that follows is a series of brutal court battles. There are times you think it’s an open and shut case and other times when it’s no so obvious. The depositions and testimonies leave you wanting to pull your hair out. Every single detail is covered in Harr’s story. My suggestion is, after you have finished reading the book, do some research about the trial. Read about what happens later and it will make you feel better.

Reason read: John Jay was born in December and became the first Chief Justice of the United States in 1789.

Book trivia: Most people will remember this as a 1998 movie starring John Travolta. As a book it was a best seller and won the 1995 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Author fact: At the time of publication Jonathan Harr lived and worked in Northampton, Massachusetts.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Legal Eagles in Nonfiction” (p 135).


Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Read By Simon Prebble. Audio Renaissance/Bloomsbury Publishing.

This is such an ambitious read! I actually listened to it on audio (26 cds; 32 hours) and it was well done. Simon Prebble’s reading is great; probably the reason why I was able to finish all 700+ pages. The extensive footnotes were inserted at the right times (but are separate tracks so you can skip them if you like. I did.). Clarke does a great job making the characters and their magic seem otherworldly and mysterious. I particularly enjoyed when characters sensed something was amiss but couldn’t quite figure out why they felt that way. “Like a fifth point on a compass” was how one character described it. There is a subtle eeriness to the landscape when magic is afoot. Clarke’s vivid descriptions are imaginatively delicious. But, back to the plot. Many reviewers felt the story was too long and drawn out. I agree it lagged in places but Clarke’s gift of storytelling made up for the lengthy plot. Each volume is the introduction and delving into of a significant character. Volume I focuses on the entrance of Mr. Gilbert Norrell. Elderly and stodgy Mr. Norrell is discovered to be a practicing magician long after it was thought magic was dead. After The Learned Society of York Magicians convinces him to move to York to revive the practice, Norrell is called upon to revive the dead fiancee of a Cabinet minister and aid in the war against Napoleon (the ships made of water was one of my favorite scenes). In Volume II Jonathan Strange is further introduced as burgeoning magician from Shropshire. When he learns of Mr. Norrell is he prompted to meet this other practitioner. While they dispute the significance of the legendary Raven King, Strange becomes Norrell’s pupil and ultimately overshadows Norrell’s capabilities as a magician. After some time with Norrell, Strange is sent to Portugal and Spain to further aid the British against the French. As Strange’s magic grows stronger the competition grows until the Raven King kidnaps Strange’s wife.

Quote I agree with, “House, like people, are apt to become rather eccentric if left to too much on their own…” (p 488).

Reason read: Clarke was born in the month of November.

Book trivia: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell was considered for many different awards: shortlisted for the Hugo Award and the Guardian First Book Award, long listed for the Booker Award…to name a few.

Author fact: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is Susanna Clarke’s first book.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Plots for Plotzing” (p 186).


Ticket for a Seamstitch

Harris, Mark. A Ticket For a Seamstitch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.

When we next meet up with Henry Wiggen he is still pitching for the New York Mammoth baseball team. He is still selling insurance during the off-season. He also still writing (and getting published so his nickname of Henry “Author” Wiggen is getting around). He is now a veteran ballplayer. The plot of Ticket for a Seamstitch is super simple. A seamstress fan of Wiggen writes to ask for a ticket to a game on the fourth of July. Fellow (and very single) teammate, Piney, reads the letter and becomes involved, thinking the girl is a “looker.” He has hopes she might be a potential girlfriend in the future. Only when she arrives, all the way from California, she is not the girl he thought she was and very married Wiggen is left to entertain her. This third book in the series is lighter on the play by play baseball and took me only an afternoon to read.

Lines liked: “The only thing bothered her sleep was in the middle of the night the boys all come banging on her door, wishing to discuss baseball, they said, she said” (p 71), and “What is philosophy to Piney Woods who is off to the moon on a motorcycle with a dream of a perfect and naked girl in his mind, and he will solve it all by science when he gets there” (p 99).

Reason read: This is the third book in the Henry W. Wiggen series. I started the series in October in honor of the world series. Yay Red Sox!

Book trivia: This is the book that put Harris on the map. Although, I’m not sure why. It isn’t as dramatic as the last one. The full title is A Ticket for a Seamstitch, Henry Wiggen but polished for the Printer by Mark Harris.

Author fact: According to the back flap of Ticket for a Seamstitch Harris spent time in New York, California, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, and New Hampshire.

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


Time, Love, Memory

Weiner, Jonathan. Time, Love, Memory: a Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.

time, Love, Memory is Seymour Benzer’s story. While Charles Darwin was obsessed with finding the origins of species, Benzer was obsessed with figuring out the origins of behavior. He dedicated his research to finding out the riddle of both animal and human behavior. He wanted to dig deeper into the concepts of nature and nurture, knowing that life was a balance of both. The the diea of reading a book about genes, fruit flies and DNA sounds boring, don’t worry. Weiner’s style of writing adds a warm and humorous texture to the otherwise scientific plot.

Quotes I liked, “In the universe above and around us, physics opened new views of space and time; in the universe below and inside us, biology opened first glimpses of the foundation stones of experience: time, love, and memory” (p 6) and “While the rest of the congregation chanted and his father looked away, Seymour read Stern and Gerlach’s The Principles of Atomic Physics (p 36).”

Reason read: Seymour Benzer passed away in the month of November. This is read in his honor.

Author fact: Weiner is better known for his book, The Beak of the Finch. In fact, acclaim for Beak is on the back of Time, Love, Memory which makes me think Time, Love, Memory isn’t as good and shouldn’t be bothered with. I think that whenever I see praise for a book different from the one I am reading.

Book trivia: Time, Love, Memory has both illustrations and photographs scattered throughout the text. This is the way I prefer “artwork” to be showcased.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Jonathan Weiner: Too Good To Miss” (p 233).


Guardians

Kabaservice, Geoffrey. The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2004.

Kingman Brewster was the president of Yale University starting in 1963. He was a leader who wasn’t afraid of the civil unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This quote sums up not only the title of the book, but Brewster’s position, “…Brewster and his friends thought of themselves as society’s guardians: modern leaders of the country’s institutions, who had national responsibilities and tried to take a national perspective” (p 11). Author Geoffrey Kabaservice takes us back to when it all began for Brewster and his circle of like-minded individuals; back when Brewster was a student at Yale. Kabaservice’s account is detailed not only in following the lives (politically and personal) of Brewster and his cronies but of the nation and its times, both politically and spiritually.

Confessional: I gave up on this after 200+ pages. The entire time I was reading it I obsessed about missing out on something more interesting to read. As a result, I wasn’t concentrating on anything on the page.

Reason read: Kingman Brewster died in November (11/8/88).

Author fact: Kabaservice is a Yale graduate. I suspect his interest in Kingman Brewster comes from personal experience.

Book trivia: Guardians has a small collection of photographs. My favorite is of Brewster, at age 21, testifying before Senate.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “A Little Left of Center” (p 148). Interesting tidbit: This so-called chapter, A Little Left of Center, mentions only two books.


Now Read This

Pearl, Nancy. Now Read this: a Guide to Mainstream Fiction, 1978 – 1998. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1999.

Reason read: November is the anniversary month of the Book Challenge. I’m reading Now Read This to celebrate that endeavor.

If I wasn’t already trying to read over 5,500 books I would attempt to read every book indexed in Now Read This. Here’s the thing about this guide (to Mainstream Fiction, 1978 – 1998), it’s not just a huge list of “you-oughtta-know” this author or this book. Pearl makes each recommended book inviting and, dare I say, intriguing. There is almost too much information to digest with each recommendation. Let’s start with the basics. Now Read This is broken out into four different chapters corresponding to four different appealing aspects of a book: setting, story, characters & language. Setting: if where the story takes place is important to the overall context of the plot, it is mentioned in this section. Story: if the plot is the main draw ,and not character development, for example, it is mentioned here. Characters: if the characters are people who move you in some way, are people you want to meet in real life, or stick in the memory banks long after the book is finished, the title is mentioned in this chapter. Language: if the language of the book is striking or moving, it is mentioned here. All entries have the following information. First the obvious: Author, title, publisher, date published, number of pages, and brief abstract of plot. Additional information includes the second appeal of the book. For example, a book with great characters can also have a key setting crucial to the story. Pearl also includes subject headings (now called tags in this day and age). Subjects can include what award the book has won, if it’s a first novel for the author, etc. You get the picture. Even more information includes whether or not Oprah chose it as a book for her club, (weird), and whether or not it would be a good for a general book club. Finally, the entry closes with a list of other books to try.

Author fact: Pearl went on to write a second guide to mainstream fiction that covers fiction from 1999 to 2001. I’ll be reading this one as well.

Book trivia: “More than 40 students received graduate school credit for reading” (p xi). Where was I when this book was being compiled?

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the acknowledgements (p xiv).


Bang the Drum Slowly

Harris, Mark. Bang the Drum Slowly. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

When we rejoin Henry Wiggen he is now married to Holly and she is three months pregnant. Henry has been in the big leagues for several years and sells insurance on the side. His friend and fellow ballplayer, Bruce Pearson, is dying of cancer. Henry’s life becomes a balance of baseball, family, and friendship as Bruce’s condition is kept a secret from the rest of the team. Henry (“Author” as he is called by his teammates because of his first book) grows up a great deal in this second book. When Bruce’s prostitute girlfriend wants Bruce to change his will Henry must step up to protect his friend. At the same time he becomes a father and a leader of the Mammoths.

After the fact: I can’t stand library books that have been marked up, even if the marking is all in pencil. Ugh.

Line I liked, “I used to pee away money like wine until I got wise to myself” (p 6). Just another example of how Henry grows during this time.

Reason read: October is World Series month for baseball (Yay Red Sox!) and Bang the Drum Slowly is a continuation of the story I started last month.

Author fact: Mark Harris added a new introduction to Bang the Drum Slowly. I think he felt he needed to apologize for the screenplay.

Book trivia: Here’s what it says on the title page: Bang the Drum Slowly by Henry W. Wiggen Certain of His Enthusiasms Restrained by Mark Harris. Interesting.

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