Into Thin Air

Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.

Reason read: the Mount Everest disaster occurred on May 10th 1996.

Jon Krakauer was given an assignment by Outside Magazine to join a climbing expedition ultimately going to the top of Mount Everest. Being an avid mountaineer he thrilled at the chance to join a professional team to reach the highest summit in the world. What he didn’t anticipate was being witness to one of the worst Everest disasters in the mountain’s history.
As Karakuer takes us to higher elevations he not only gives the reader a play by play of the events unfolding at each camp, he also details the physical and psychological effects wreaking havoc on the climbers, adventurer and Sherpa alike. It’s a grueling quest and Krakauer never lets you forget the danger.
It has been said that the mountaineering community is unique unto themselves. Never before was this more apparent than when Kraukauer described climbers so hellbent on reaching the top that they would push on past half dead individuals lying in the snow, slowly freezing to death. Or step casually over the legs of a half buried dead man…
Despite the dangers of climbing such high elevations, the challenge continues to draw thousands to Everest. It is an industry unto itself, making millions for guides, the sports corporations looking to sponsor them, and the Sherpas looking to lead the way.

I devoured this book. I found it was very easy to lose track of time and read 70-80 pages in one sitting.

Quotes I liked, “I thrilled in the fresh perspective that came from tipping the ordinary plane of existence on end” (p 23) and “Problem was, my inner voice resembled Chicken Little; it was screaming that I was about to die, but it did that almost every time I laced up my climbing boots” (p 101).

Author fact: I think Krakauer is best known for Into the Wild, but I am reading two others, Iceland and Where Men Win Glory.

Book trivia: There are the obligatory black and white photographs of the victims and a few of the mountain. Unlike a book a read recently where every photo was of the author, Jon Krakauer isn’t in a single one.

Nancy said: Krakauer’s book “sets the standard for personal adventure books” (p 8).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By the Book: Nonfiction” (p 8).


Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle

Gilman, Dorothy. Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Reason read: I started the Mrs. Pollifax series in September 2017 in honor of Grandparents Day. This is the last book I am reading for the series.

The one word for Mrs. Polllifax: gullible. Either that or the one word for the CIA is inept. Not sure which is more accurate. Emily and her new husband Cyrus are headed to Thailand for a little rest & relaxation; a real vacation without an ulterior motive. After their fiasco in China, they needed a break from all things dark and dangerous. They are all set to head out the door when who should catch wind of their trip, but old friend Bishop, and who should need a favor, but the old CIA. It sounds simple enough – all Bishop needs is for Emily to drop off a package for an informant and in exchange, receive some top secret information too important to send in a letter. What could possibly go wrong? If you have been paying attention to Emily Pollifax’s adventure you already know…a lot. This time, it’s Cyrus who goes missing. Never mess with a feisty woman when her man is kidnapped!

One quote to mention, “Like a toy flower dropped into a glass of water, Mrs. Pollifax felt herself expanding and flowering” (p 19).
Here’s one more, “…one could never know the traumas that such people; everyone carried around with them their own particular defenses, antagonisms, secrets and uncertainties…” (p 136). Very true.

Author fact: So far, I have told you this about Dorothy Gilman: She was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey and she lived in Maine at some point in her life. Since this is my last Mrs. Pollifax book it’s only fitting to tell you Dorothy Gilman died in 2012 on my birthday.

Book trivia: The Golden Triangle is short, short, short. Doesn’t even make it to 190 pages long.

Nancy said: nothing worth mentioning.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called Thai Tales (p 226). Here is the interesting thing about how Pearl included several books in the Mrs. Pollifax series. Each book is listed independently in a chapter about a foreign country. You would never know each book is connected in a series.


The Beach

Garland, Alex. The Beach. New York: Riverhead Books, 1997.

Reason read: Thailand’s Constitution Day is observed on December 10th.

The quick and dirty plot: Richard is a young and adventurous English traveler hellbent on moving around the fringes of the world with a brazen attitude. He boasts of exploring where others fear to tread. However, on his first night in Bangkok Richard’s whole world changes after he thinks he has seen everything. His meeting with Daffy, also known as Mr. Duck, is a fateful turning point for all involved. Daffy, a Scottish traveler, ends up committing suicide but not before he leaves Richard a map of a beach he called paradise. Intrigued and unable to ignore the siren call of adventure, Richard recruits a French couple to join him and find this hidden oasis. Compared to Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Garland takes us to the beach where a group of other tourists have created a commune, complete with an off-center leader and other misfits.

Author fact: this is Garland’s first novel.

No quotes to mention.

Book trivia: The Beach was made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio in 2000.

Nancy said: nothing except to say The Beach takes place in Thailand.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Thai Tales” (p 226).


Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha

Gilman, Dorothy. Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1985.

Reason read: to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents’ Day.

When we left Mrs. Pollifax after her African safari she and Cyrus Reed had just started a new romance. Now ten months later they are newlyweds living in a house they bought together. He’s off in upstate Vermont somewhere on a bird-counting expedition and Emily is overseeing renovations on their house when who should stop by for a visit, but old friend (and CIA man), Bishop. Of course, he needs Mrs. Pollifax for a delicate assignment and, but of course, there is no time to waste. If she agrees to take the case she doesn’t even have time to contact the hubby or pack properly (although she does remember to grab a snazzy hat). In an era when you could leave strangers in your house, Emily pops off a note to Cyrus and leaves the handymen to work unsupervised. Mrs. Pollifax’s new mission is a trip to Hong Kong to find missing agent Sheng Ti (a character from a previous story I didn’t read). Here’s the thing about Mrs. Pollifax – she will talk to just about anyone so the characters she meets run the gamut. She blithely shares information with double agents, gangsters and psychics alike. You could call this an adventure with just the right amount of silliness boiled in. There is death and violence and the threat of terrorism but take, for examples, the agents’s “secret” language, “…should be arriving you-know-where in fifteen minutes…” (p 128). I’m surprised the statement wasn’t followed by a wink-wink.
Mrs. Pollifax gets herself in a pickle but now she has a secret weapon to help save the day, her lovable husband, Cyrus!
Author fact: According to the back flap of Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha, Dorothy Gilman lived in New Mexico and Nova Scotia. That sounds like the best of both worlds.

Book trivia: My copy of Mrs. Pollifax was peppered with highlighting. It was if someone had been using it as a vocabulary primer for words like shrubbery and ensconced were marked.

Nancy said: Nancy called Emily Pollifax a “dithery elderly woman with a penchant for unusual hats” (p 98). I would agree with that.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the simple and to the point chapter, “Hong Kong” (p 97).


Ysabel

Kay, Guy Gavriel. Ysabel. New York: ROC, 2007.

Reason read: Kay was born in November. Read in his honor.

This was a quick read once I settled into the fantasy aspect of it. I have to admit, the historical side was a little easier to cozy up to at first. The premise is an interesting one. Ned Marriner is traveling with his father in Aix-en-Provence, France on a photography assignment. Edward Marriner has made a name for himself as a professional photographer specializing in coffee table books of unusual landscapes and architecture. Ned’s mom is a doctor with Medicine Sans Frontiers and a source of angst for her family as she insists on being sent to treat people in warring regions like Dafur and Bosnia. While in Provence Ned befriends sarcastic and bold Kate and together they uncover an ancient mystery that borders on the supernatural. It seems like a great fantasy until Edward’s super assistant Melanie goes missing, sucked into that fantasy world.

As an aside, there are a lot of commercial references: iPod, Nike, Starbucks, Doc Martens, Coke…to name a few.

Quotes: sorry, there were none that stood out to me.

Author fact: Kay is a well known fantasy writer. I am reading six additional books for the Challenge (the Fionavar Tapestry series and a few others).

Book trivia: Cool factor – Ned likes music. Led Zep, U2, Pearl Jam, Alanis Morissette, Eminem…and it’s Coldplay who help get through one of his most difficult challenges.

Nancy said: Nancy said not to miss Ysabel. There was “enough history and adventure to satisfy even non-fantasy fans” (p 187). I would agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Provence and the South of France” (p 186).


Boo to You October

The month had finally arrived for the half marathon, my first and only of 2017. Enough said about that.
Here are the books I have planned:

Fiction:

  • The Aristotle Detective by Margaret Anne Doody ~ in honor of Greece’s Ochi Day
  • All Hallows Eve by Charles Williams ~ in honor of what else? Halloween.

Nonfiction:

  • Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison ~ in honor of the first safari leader’s birth month (Major Sir William Wallace Cornwallis Harris born October 1848. How’s that for a name?) (AB / print)
  • Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts ~ in honor of James Holman’s birth month (AB)

Series Continuations:

  • The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents Day.
  • Henry James: the Master by Leon Edel ~ to continue (and finish) the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month
  • We are Betrayed by Vardis Fisher ~ to continue the series started in August

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina ~ and we are back to nonfiction.

If there is time:

  • Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe (fiction)
  • The Discarded Duke by Nancy Butler (fiction)
  • In the Valley of Mist by Justine Hardy (nonfiction)
  • I Will Bear Witness (vol.1) by Victor Klemperer (nonfiction)

Pacific Lady

Adams, Sharon Sites and Karen J Coates. Pacific Lady: the First Woman to Sail Solo across the World’s Largest Ocean. University of Nebraska Press, 2008. Outdoor Lives. EBSCOhost.

Reason read: July is one of the best months to be on the water. Also, it is the month Ida B. Wells was born (7/16/1862). Ida embodied the spirit of empowerment for women.

In 1965 Sharon Adams became the first woman to sail from California to Hawaii in a 25′ Folkboat called the Sea Sharp. [Moment of honesty: I was unfamiliar with the term folkboat and had to look it up.] Adams had just learned to sail the year before at age thirty-four. Recently widowed she needed something to do; somewhere to channel her grief. Dentistry just didn’t cut it. What better place than the ocean? And then. Then, after that, she decided she needed to do more. Why not be the first woman to sail the entire Pacific ocean? Delivering a boat from Japan to San Diego, California in just under four months, Adams not only learned more about the natural environment around her but about herself as well.
Here’s the thing you need to know about Sharon Adams. She was just an ordinary woman looking for a hobby. she did something extraordinary not because she wanted fame but because she could. what I don’t think she realized is that she can write just as well as she sailed. Even though she had help from Karen Coates, every other sentence was begging to be a quote in my review.

Some of my favorite lines (and there were many). Here are two about loneliness: “Experience does not deaden the sting of loneliness at sea” (p 1) and “Some sailors simply couldn’t endure their own minds” (p 3).

Author fact: Adams was 78 when she published her memoir about her sailing adventures. I love her writing so much I wish she had written more.

Book trivia: the foreword was written by Randall Reeves and the preface was written by Karen Coates.

Nancy said: nothing special about Pacific Lady. It’s just in a list of books about the ocean. too bad Nancy didn’t have a chapter called “Women Doing Amazing Things!”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called “See the Sea” (p 202).