“Spoon Children”

Paine, Tom. “The Spoon Children.” Scar Vegas and Other Stories.New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2000.

Reason read: June is Short Story Month

Tom Paine has this ability to climb inside a character and absorb its persona so well you could swear he’s writing based on an intimate memory of his own. The people you meet in “The Spoon Children” are so believable and memorable you want to know what happens to them long after the story ends. You also have to wonder if the story isn’t a little autobiographical in the process. No wonder critics call him a ventriloquist.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Good Things Come in Small Packages” (p 102).


Spiderweb For Two

Enright, Elizabeth. Spiderweb for Two: a Melendy Maze. New York: Listen & Live Audio, 2004.

Reason read: this is the last book in the series to celebrate Enright’s birth month (started in September). I have grown to really like this family. I will miss them.

Here were are, back with the Melendy family. Only inĀ Spiderweb for Two they are less than half the family they are used to being. Father is still traveling the university circuit as a guest lecturer and Mark, Mona and Rush are away at various schools. Left behind are Randy and her brother, Oliver, with the help, Cuffy and Willy. The rest of the family hasn’t been gone a day before Randy is beside herself with boredom. She doesn’t want to play with Oliver. He’s always been the baby of the family and therefore not worth her time…until she discovers a mystery. It starts with a message in the mailbox that takes them on a winter adventure. Each message is a clue to finding another message until they have received fourteen messages and all and it is summer once again.
It’s a cute story. Oliver getting stuck in the chimney was one of my favorite parts.

Profound quote, “Vigorously running bath water always caused Randy, as it does nearly everyone, to wish to sing” (p 80). This quote made me think of Natalie Merchant’s song, “Verdi Cries” and the lyric, “I fill the bath and climb inside, singing.” Maybe there is some truth to Enright’s words.

Author fact: Oliver was the name of Enright’s youngest boy, as it was in the Melendy series.

Book trivia: the e-audio version spells “Cuffy” as “Kaffi”.

Nancy said: absolutely nothing; just listed the title.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21).


Freedom at Midnight

Collins, Larry and Dominique Lapierre. Freedom at Midnight. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975.

Reason read: November is the best time to visit India…or so they say.

I have to admit I had a love-hate relationship with Freedom at Midnight. At times I found it incredibly interesting while other times it was as boring as taupe. This is the kind of book a historian could really drool over. Often times it reads like a novel in its detail.
My takeaways: It is profound to think that the age old antagonism between the millions of Hindus and millions of Moslems is seemingly irreconcilable and Freedom at Midnight provides a wonderful, if abbreviated, biography of Gandhi.

Author fact(s): Larry Collins was born in Hartford, CT and Dominique Lapierre was born in France.

Book trivia: Freedom at Midnight include some pretty interesting photographs as well as one or two disturbing ones.

Nancy said: Reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie led Pearl to read Freedom at Midnight (from the Book Lust introduction). She also said Freedom at Midnight was “required reading for those interested in understanding colonial and postcolonial India from a non-Indian point of view” (p 125-126).

Confessional: I started to read Freedom at Midnight five (yes, five) years ago. The start of this blog has been hanging out since 2011.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust and More Book Lust. In Book Lust in the introduction (p xi) and in More Book Lust in the chapter called “India: A Reader’s Itinerary” (p 125).


River of Doubt

Millard, Candice. River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey. Read by Paul Michael. Westminster, MD: Books on Tape, 2005.

Reason: Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize.

Millard paints Roosevelt’s biography in broad strokes, reviewing his fragile health as a child, the loss of his mother and wife in the same 24 hours (Valentine’s Day of all days), and his need to push his physical limits when faced with tragedies or failures. It is this need that sets the stage for Millard’s true focus: Roosevelt’s South American expedition to an uncharted tributary of the Amazon. He refused to go where everyone else had trod and yet, he expected the excursion to be ho-hum and without incident. Silly man. Millard’s account of the expedition has it all, excitement, adventure, violence, death and madness.

As an aside, can I just say I loved the fact that packed among Roosevelt’s supplies was a bottle of Tabasco? Not just hot sauce, but Tabasco by name.

Author fact: Millard used to be the editor for National Geographic Magazine.

Book trivia: My favorite photograph in River of Doubt is one of Kermit. His piercing stare says it all.

Audio trivia: Paul Michael’s accents are great.

Nancy said: “fast paced, well written and difficult to put down” (p 17). I would definitely agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called “Amazonia” (p 17).


Yoga for Athletes

Cunningham, Ryanne. Yoga for Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2017.

Reason read: Early review program for LibraryThing.

Disclaimer: I had to use this book for a few weeks before I could review it. I am a firm believer in yoga to supplement all sports activity.

  • Likes: Pose finder index was very helpful.
  • Photographs of people with different body types was great (instead of photographs all of the same model).
  • Testimonies from professional and nonprofessional athletes add character to the book.
  • Sections on specific sports to target key areas for those who want “quick” routines. I’m a runner so I jumped right to “my” section a few times.
  • Directional language is very straightforward.

Dislikes:

  • some poses have modifications while others do not. All poses can be modified.
  • Some redundancy – some poses are shown more than once (cat cow, spine rolling, boat pose to name a few). The duplication implies filler, like there was no enough content for a complete book.
  • Some sections out of sequence; warming up poses before the “warming up” chapter, for example.
  • No warning on the more dangerous poses (like wheel); I would have liked to see the modification illustrated.
  • Awful outfits for most of the models (especially the men). What’s with the Wednesday tights?

Conquest of the Incas

Hemming, John. The Conquest of the Incas. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Inc., 1970.

Reason read: December is supposedly the best time to visit Peru. Who knew?

Hemming explains his book as such, “Here I have tried to penetrate the clouds of conflicting hyperbole in contemporary reports and treatises” (p 17).

It is always difficult to read histories such as this because when it comes right down to it, this is a conquest of a people who were indigenous to the land; in other words, people who were “there” first. I found myself holding my breath when I read the sentence, “the moment had finally come when the first Spaniards were to confront the ruler of Peru” (page 33) because you just knew they were going to execute him at some point (and they did). All that aside, Hemming does a thorough job detailing the Spanish conquest of Peru. It is a worthy read, especially if you are planning to visit the region.

As an aside, Francisco Pizarro’s fanatical determination reminded me not a little of Percy Fawcett and his expedition into the Amazon. Which then reminded me of River of Doubt by Candice Millard, which I am reading now.

Author fact: Hemming is an expert on the Incas.

Book trivia: Conquest includes six pages of maps.

Nancy said: Conquest is one of three major histories of the Spanish Conquest of Peru.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Peru(sing) Peru” (p 177).


Paul Revere and the World He Lived In

Forbes, Esther. Paul Revere & the World He Lived In. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942.

Reason read: Paul Revere was baptized on January 1st, 1735. But. But! But, back in those days the child was usually baptized the day after birth… so I’m thinking he was actually born on 12/31. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In the beginning Apollos Rivoire came to Boston with an American dream…

Esther Forbes wrote Paul Revere with a good natured, almost folksy tone. I could almost see the twinkle in her eye by her choice of words. Here are some quotes to illustrate my point, “Like so many men of his years and period, Mr. Coney was enjoying his third wife – ‘Prudent Mary,’ Judge Sewall calls her” (p 8), “Boston had not yet run out of either rum or religion fervor” (p 13), and “Only once did she save labor by twinning” (p 21). I could go on and on.
But, just because Ms. Forbes wasn’t didactic in her tone doesn’t mean she wasn’t informative. Her narrative paints a thoroughly detailed and informative account of Paul Revere’s life and times. As an added bonus, the city of Boston also is biographied. One such fun detail is about Boston’s streets: If the present day street is straight it probably used to be sea bottom. “Wherever the streets are snarled up, you are standing in the ancient town itself” (p 49). The next time I am there, I’m going to check that out for myself.

As an aside, I am so glad Revere didn’t teach himself dentistry.

Author fact: Esther Forbes also wrote Johnny Tremaine, a book my sister still has on her bookshelf.

Book trivia: Paul Revere includes photographs. That’s the boring trivia. The more interesting one is that the table of contents includes an abstract of each chapter. I have never seen that before.

Nancy said: Forbes used the information collected for Paul Revere to write Johnny Tremaine.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Historical Fiction for Kids of all Ages” (p 114).