Thousand Hills

Kinzer, Stephen. A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It. Read by Paul Boehmer. Tantor Audio, 2008.
Kinzer, Stephen. A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2008.

Reason read: April 22, 2000 Paul Kagame became President of Rwanada. He is credited for bringing an end to the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

Kinzer had one simple motive for writing Thousand Hills. It is an amazing untold story that needed to be shared. One the one hand, it is the condense biography of a remarkable man who, born into poverty and nearly killed when he was only two years old, rose in military rank to single-handedly lead a rebel force that ended the largest genocide in Rwanda. On the other hand, it is the telling of a nation struggling with a metamorphosis of epic proportions. After the holocaust, Paul Kagame insisted on bringing Tutsi and Hutu together, demanding that murderer and victim work as one to repair relations.

Author fact: In 2008 Kinzer went on C-Span BookTV to talk about Thousand Hills. The video is over an hour long and still available for viewing on the C-Span site.

Nancy said: nothing.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Africa: the Greenest Continent” (p 8).


Marching Out

March was one of those weird months. A few Nor’Easters. A few miles run. A few books read. We had two school closings in back to back weeks so that helped with the reading, but not the run. I finished the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race just two minutes off my time last year. Considering I didn’t train (again) I’m alright with that. There’s always next year! Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • The Good Son by Michael Gruber
  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
  • White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling
  • Witch World by Andre Norton
  • Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis

Nonfiction –

  • All the Way Home by David Giffels
  • Slide Rule by Nevil Shute

Series Continuations –

  • Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to finished the series started in honor of her birth month in January.
  • Entranced by Nora Roberts

Early Review for Librarything –

  • Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt (started)
  • Infinite Hope – Anthony Graves

Poetry –

  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz (not finished)

Fun – I’m not finished with either fun book so I won’t list them here.


Spring Sprung Titles

What to say about April? I ran my fastest 10k while ill (go figure). I met two new runners and may have convinced someone to at least try. I don’t know where this acceptance to run with others is coming from. To share a conversation I had with someone: I asked where she runs. She replied she doesn’t have my pace, “nowhere near it” were her exact words. I answered I don’t have that pace all the time either. Me & my pace visit from time to time but we don’t make it a thing. She laughed and I saw myself ten years ago talking to someone who face-times with friends while running. I worried about her relationship with pace. But, this blog is turning into a thing different from reading.

So, without further ado, here are the finished books:

Fiction:

  • Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee – read in one day
  • Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez – read in two days
  • Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard – read in four days (this book annoyed me and I kept having to put it down)

Nonfiction:

  • Lost Upland: stories of the Dordogne Region by W.S. Merwin – confessional: DNF (bored, bored, bored)
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Henry James: the Untried Years by Leon Edel
  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark – this was cheeky!

Series continuations:

  • “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton (I’m calling this a continuation even though I read “A” a long time ago.)
  • Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (AB + print so I could finish on time – today!)
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves – another quick read (finished in four days)

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

March of the Books

Here’s the singular thing I love, love, love about March: the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race in Holyoke, MA. I adore running this race. Runner’s World magazine has mentioned it more than once, calling it the mini Boston Marathon for it’s toughness. I PR’ed this year! But what I am more excited about is that this time I was only five seconds away from breaking an hour. Unlike last year (1:07:and something seconds) I was 1 hour and a measly four seconds. But, enough about running! Here are the books finished for March, 2017:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB +EB)*
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (AB + print)
  • Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy*
  • Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe*

Nonfiction:

  • Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam (DNF)
  • Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph and Nina Shevchuk-Murray (EB)
  • No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (AB)

Series continuations:

  • Red Bones by Ann Cleeves
  • Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (DNF)
  • Endymion by Dan Simmons

Early Review “won”:

  • Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leone (received and finished)
  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul (This has arrived & I have started it)

*Short enough to read in one day.


Snow Angels

Thompson, James. Snow Angels. Read by T. Ryder Smith. New York: Recorded Books, 2009.

Reason read: There is a folk festival that takes place in Finland every July.

Meet Kari Vaara. He is the inspector for a small town outside of Finland’s capital of Helsinki. Just before Christmas, during the darkest time of the year in Lapland, he is confronted with the brutal (and I do mean brutal) murder of a semi-famous immigrant Somali actress. She has been viciously sexually assaulted and a racial slur has been carved into her stomach. Sex crime? Hate crime? Both? As lead investigator Vaara must sort through the clues; clues that dredge up his own haunted past. My only complaint was as lead detective Vaara should never have been allowed to stay on the case once it looked like his ex-wife’s boyfriend was good for the crime. In my culture Vaara would have recused himself and left the investigation, especially since his ex-wife left him devastated. His fingering the boyfriend for the murder could be a revenge accusation. SPOILER ALERT: if not after the first murder, but certainly when his ex-wife is also murdered he should have handed over every part of the investigation and stepped as far back as possible. Just my two…
Okay, and I have another complaint albeit a small one. This is definitely an adult book. The themes, the language, the sex and violence…well, the violence was especially over the top and so many deaths (six in all) seemed unnecessary.

As an aside, I just watched a documentary about living in Antarctica and can’t imagine living in a region where, for a quarter of a year, there is semi-darkness 24/7. I can’t imagine being without the sun for that length of time. The nights must seem endless and I think I would experience seasonal insanity.

Quote I loved. So, here’s an odd situation. There was this laugh-out-loud moment I want to relate only since I listened to it on audio I can’t quote it. I can paraphrase – Kari is speaking to someone unpleasant and he say “he didn’t say thank you, goodbye or even fuck you.” Those weren’t the exact words, but they made me giggle.
EDITED TO UPDATE: I borrowed a copy of the print just so I could quote my favorite line, “He gives me the time and place and hangs up without saying thank you, fuck you or good-bye” (p 221). It’s still funny.

Author fact: Snow Angels is Thompson’s first novel.

Book trivia: Snow Angels starts the series starring Inspector Kari Vaara.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Frolicking in Finland” (p 86).


Killer Inside Me

Thompson, Jim. The Killer Inside Me.

Lou Ford is a young deputy sheriff with a big secret. He has what he calls a “sickness.” In truth, he is a sexual sadist and a homicidal sociopath. After having rough sex with a prostitute he finds all of his urges have come back. Years earlier he attacked a child. When his foster brother took the blame for the crime, Lou thought his secret was safe, especially when his brother died in a construction “accident.” He got away with it until he decided to blackmail the men who supposedly murdered his brother. Things get complicated and the bodies start piling up. Ford is a strange man (never mind the fact he’s a killer). He speaks in cliches all the time and he has an ego the size of Alaska. He thinks that he has covered up each and every crime and hasn’t left a shred of evidence that could implicate him in any way. It’s strange to read this in the 21st century. So many different forensic techniques we take for granted today (DNA, for one) were not available back in the 1950s. Even methods like the polygraph and fingerprinting have been greatly improved since their invention.

Best lines, “Out here, if you catch a man with his pants down, you apologize…even if you have to arrest him afterwards” (p 6).

Reason read: June is National Short Story month.

Author fact: Thompson also wrote The Grifters which is on my list.

Book trivia: The Killer Inside Me was made into a movie with a pretty cool website here.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Les Crimes Noir” (p 67). Interestingly enough, this is one of the stories in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s which is also on my list.


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).