sallypursell newbie

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sallypursell newbie

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Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 1:47am

Hi, this is my first post. In the last 24 hours I read:

1. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss Beautiful language, mystical concepts

2. The Handfasters by Helen Susan Swift, and which I don't recommend. A very ordinary romance.

3. The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
Victorian mystery, and psychological intrigue for the main character, the detective. Masterful use of the time and place.

May 27, 2019, 8:54am

Ah, here you are. Welcome. That was quite a day, especially if you read all three from start to finish.

Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 1:48am

Well, none of them was sizable. And I did read them from start to finish.

I have been stuck in bed for the most part for the last few months, due to an acute spinal injury followed by spinal surgery. I am just now beginning to be out of bed a bit.

4. Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal. An alternate history of the mid 20th century, portraying an environment in which women become astronauts.
Nominated for the Hugo Award this year.

5. Wizards and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber. This is the first volume of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser's adventures together. Has that quaint language I love, and is much funnier than one would think.

6. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor. The first book about the hilarious (and poignant) adventures of the Time Travel historians of St Mary's historical research institute.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 7:33pm

I almost forgot:

7. Marrow by Robert Reed. Eye-opening science fiction with concepts I would have never thought of.

Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 1:42am

8. Bryant & May: Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler. My favorite eccentric detectives. I always learn something from their books, and they are both funny and absorbing. As usual, this was about a puzzling murder in London.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 7:36pm

9. All Systems Red; the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. A popular series about an AI unit with no programmed controls on his behavior.

May 29, 2019, 4:35am

10. The Wise Man's Fear: Day Two by Patrick Rothfuss. Continues the adventures of Kvothe, the famous adventurer/thief/philosopher/Warlock

May 29, 2019, 8:39am

>5 sallypursell: I love Bryant & May, so it is nice to see another fan. The audiobooks are very good. The narrator has such great voices for the main characters. The newest book was released in May, and I’m looking forward to listening to it.

Edited: May 29, 2019, 9:14pm

>8 NanaCC: NanaCC Thanks for the news. This is that newest book, I think.

I think Mr. Fowler got a new word desk calendar. This new one is full of them.

Jun 1, 2019, 11:03am

>9 sallypursell: I read Wild Chamber in 2017. The next was called Hall of Mirrors, which I read last year. The newest one is called The Lonely Hour. I laughed at your “new word desk calendar” comment.

Jun 1, 2019, 4:16pm

>10 NanaCC: Oh, good. More Peculiar Crimes!

Edited: Jun 23, 2019, 9:58pm

11. Artificial Condition, another Murderbot story, by Martha Wells. Development of main character chronicled.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 7:38pm

12. The House of God by Samuel Shem. So depressing. I had to read it in spurts. Depressing, frightening, a glimpse into the horror of an internship year, and the detachment developed by the suffering new doctors as they learn to be responsible for the lives and well-being of patients in a large teaching hospital. Source of the slang word "gomer".

Jun 5, 2019, 2:38am

>13 sallypursell: I have had a copy of The House of God for at least 20 years and have never opened it. Looks like it’s going i the next clear-out.

Jun 5, 2019, 2:11pm

>14 haydninvienna: I did like it the first time I read it--when it came out. I can't think why.

Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 1:50am

13. The Family that Couldn't Sleep This book, by a journalist named D. T. Max, tells the story of one family which is afflicted by a prolonged, hideous death in 50% of its members. In addition it recounts the history of the scientific discoveries of prion diseases and the current state of the search for cures. Kuru. Scrapie, and Mad Cow Disease (Creutzville-Jakob disease in humans) feature prominently in this historical treatment.

This was great! It sucked me away from the fiction I was reading, and I did little else until I finished it. Highly recommended to anyone who is interested in Biology, Medicine, or Epidemiology, as well as a well-told story of great relevance to our own safety.

Edited: Jun 11, 2019, 1:37am

14. The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey. One of the less successful books in the Elemental Masters series. Fascinating characters are a little flat, and the climax and denouement are rushed and not well done. Many awkward sentences. This reads as if the author was trying to fulfill a contractural requirement and didn't much care about it.

Edited: Jun 12, 2019, 11:04pm

15. The Life and Times of Mousefoot, Entrepeneur, by Amalia Pursell. This is the third entry in the Fall of Dalajiel Series, and like the others, has interesting characters, original iterations of some familiar types of fantasy characters. The structure in this one is also novel. Mousefoot is a particularly interesting member of the cast, and it is good to know what happens to her after her involvement in the first two novels. Unfortunately, the book, like the others, suffers from a serious lack of good copy-editing. The punctuation is often lacking, and it appears the editing was done by spell-check, since there are many homonyms which are the wrong word, and the grammar and syntax are sometimes wrong or awkward. Still, I liked the book, and am looking forward to the next one. The second volume continues to be the best, but this is a divertimento in the series, much more light-hearted and also briefer than the other volumes. I think this is the author's favorite character, and she wanted to concentrate on her.

Jun 11, 2019, 2:20pm

>18 sallypursell: I’m hope I’m not being disrespectful, but wondering if there is any relation between you and this Pursell.

Jun 12, 2019, 11:04pm

>19 dchaikin: I wondered if anyone would notice! She is my daughter. I think her books are pretty interesting, and I certainly read worse ones, but we disagree about editing. She likes the sentence with a comma splice; I don't think they are advisable. She has given me leave to do some copy-editing on her more serious work, but it is a daunting task. This book is the third of three so far, in this, her most serious work, but she is well along writing the fourth. I need to start with #1, The Fall of Dalajiel, I suppose. Read it, it has some interesting and unusual features! It's not experimental form, just an unusual way to work out a fantasy novel. Maybe you don't read fantasy?

I hope my comments don't sound too fawning. I tried to be even-handed, and I can be quite a severe critic, especially if something lacks only a little of being really good.

Edited: Jun 12, 2019, 11:10pm

16. Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. I swear this series is addictive, and as rich as chocolate. This time Mercedes, her pack, and another child of Coyote are attacked by Guyota, a volcano god from the Canary Islands. It has so many things I like. A kick-ass heroine, true love with her husband, and very thick veins of interesting folklore and legends. I'm not one of those who is mad for werewolves or vampires, but when they are as good as the ones in this series I am fine with them. It is really hard not to read the next book immediately after this one, but I must stretch them out--there aren't that many more.

Jun 12, 2019, 11:15pm

17. A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor. The second book in the Chronicles of Saint Mary's. Saint Mary's is an association of disaster-magnet historians who use time-travel to answer vexing questions of history, and garner information that was never documented. These are light, funny, but sometimes have some wrenching moments when History bites back.

Jun 13, 2019, 5:04pm

18. The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz. This has been a favorite of mine since I first read it, when I was about 14. I'm basing that on the year it was first published, 1966. At the time I read everything science fiction that the local library acquired. This is funny, insightful, and demonstrates so many different ways of living--the way the children of Karres are raised, for instance--that I found it most provocative. Now I realize it strokes a currying favor vein in that it assumes human exceptionalism. We're not stronger, smarter, or more honest, but the hero always wins through. Captain Pausert is a charming anti-hero. He is bumbling, but never stops trying. He is easily fooled, but will eventually understand and respond. It is assumed that he will marry the child Goth, but there isn't a shred of creepiness or sliminess. He is not a pedophile. It is more like the young child asserting she will marry someone and he doesn't take it seriously, but wouldn't make her feel humiliated for anything. One thing is for certain; he doesn't understand the Witches of Karres.

Jun 16, 2019, 1:07am

19. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot. Some year's ago this was near the top of the romances on the Romance Writers of America list of Best Romances. I read it, and found it delightful. I then read the others on the same list, which were almost all terrible. I wanted to find out if the bulk of romances were any good, so I spent the next six months or so reading some hundreds of them, to find out that I didn't like most of them. I hate the Big Misunderstanding that functions as a plot hinge on so many. Being a cautious Virgo, I made a database with reviews and ratings of all the romances I had read. This one was one of the few I rated well.

It is an epistolary novel written all in email. It is funny, sweet, and had some great plot points. I wanted to read it again, and while I was worried that I wouldn't like it as much, I was wrong. I have this to thank for finding out that there is only one type of romance that I can forgive for being rather formulaic, as they tend to be. That is the Regency type, and I still read many of those. I should have known, I guess. I adored Georgette Heyer as a girl.

Jun 16, 2019, 6:32pm

20. Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot. A Young Adult novel, and readable, but not exceptional. Some stabs at Regency flavor, but not rigorously approached.

Jun 19, 2019, 1:35pm

>20 sallypursell: that’s really cool, Sally. And special, and funny that you give her a hard time on the editing. I’ve been known to read a fantasy book, but it’s been a while.

Edited: Jul 17, 2019, 6:32pm

>26 dchaikin: Thanks, dchaikin! What kind of mother would be indulgent about editing? Not a responsible one, I don't think.

Edited: Jul 3, 2019, 12:26pm

21. The Charmer, an Assassins Guild Novel by C. J. Archer. Firstly, how believable is it that there are four assassins, working in together, who are, at heart, honest, loving, and benevolent? It is conceivable that such a group might restrict their work, wanting to be sure that their putative victims have earned extrajudicial execution. It is less conceivable that the simple sight of a victim convinces one assassin not to murder her, no matter what their contract maintains about her guilt in killing two consecutive husbands.

This book was so bad that I nearly abandoned it several times, but I did want to experience the resolution of the plot. Also,I seldom decide to stop reading any book. It's never more than a few hours of my life wasted. This book was such a waste. It barely hung together, the main characters were unbelievable, and the love experienced was not developed through acquaintance, but was fully formed by mysterious ways when they beheld each other. The writing was clunky. In fact, this book left a bad taste in my virtual mouth, and I had to speed along to a better-written romance ASAP. I was disheartened, disillusioned. I can usually suspend my disbelief for an enjoyable romance, so long as the mechanics are not conspicuously and negatively drawn to my attention (Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!). I think I will discard this book in the recycling rather than donating it; I hate for anyone to experience it.

Jun 23, 2019, 9:56pm

22. A Little Scandal by Patricia Cabot. I had to read a better romance novel to get the smell of that last one from my skin. This is the type I most enjoy, historical novels with romance themes. This one is like a Regency romance, although the time period is not identified, and those are my favorites. This was one in which a governess of gentle birth falls in love with her employer, as he does with her. Naturally there are complications but they weren't too stupid. There was considerable melodrama, but not so much that I was put off by it. The novel was near average for the type, but it was good enough that I could suspend my doubts and simply enjoy it. I think I will have to read a non-fiction entry next for refreshment of my intellectual capacity and enjoyment.

Edited: Jun 28, 2019, 2:04am

23. A Primate's Memoir;A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Time Among the Baboons by Robert M. Sapolsky An account in some detial about the author's field seasons as a primatologist and neuroscientist. Fabulous adventure, the passion of a young scientist, the folly of a young man, the errors of a man out of his culture, but throughout, fascinating observations and heart-wrenching tragedy, in the field career of a passionate man for a troupe of baboons he knew for their whole lives. Inspiring and captivating, from a premier lecturer and writer.

Jun 29, 2019, 2:35pm

24. Shadowland (The Mediator #1) by Meg Cabot First in a series about a slightly rebellious teen girl who is forced to relocate to California after growing up in New York City. She has always seen ghosts, and sometimes can help them "move on" to probable afterlife. On occasion this involves the use of force. In California she meets a Catholic Priest, an administrator at her high school, who is also what he calls "a mediator". They each confront the spirit of an ex-student who is physically dangerous. Father Dominic ends up in the hospital, and it is left to Suze to conquer the angry ghost. In the meantime, Suze is having more social success in California than she ever did in New York, and the pleasures of being liked are newly hers. A better than average young adult novel about encountering the spirit world. I wish I had found it so amenable to my comfort.

25. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs Another Mercy Thompson novel. In this episode Mercy, Adam, and the pack must confront a troll on the suspension bridge leading to the tri-cities, and must find a way to bargain with some prominent and power-hungry fae. She end us claiming the whole of the pack's influence sphere as free of the fae's control, and, with some appeasement, the fae she makes her bargain with are led to agree. Great sense of menace as Mercy and Adam must walk part of Fairyland itself to achieve their aims. I could read these all day. They are like mental popcorn.

Edited: Jul 3, 2019, 2:07pm

26. Enter the Saint by Leslie Charteris. A reprint of a book that was originally published in 1930. It is the first available novel of the character The Saint, the same one played by Roger Moore in fairly recent TV and movies (1962-1969). Suspending my feminism, and my logical faculties, I was able to enjoy this in the spirit in which it was presented--with the Saint as a benevolent criminal/Robin Hood character who given 80% of his ill-gotten gains to charity and benevolent organizations. He likes nice clothing and fancy cars, too, and the other 20% is for the maintenance of the Saint's group of operatives, all men of sterling worth and character, even if they dip into criminal enterprises. This book combines several of the longer stories published about the Saint in men's adventure magazines. Suspending those faculties I mentioned was quite necessary. The stories were a little naive, and featured men superior to women, though quite appreciative of them.

As an example, the successful lady criminal says this: "Because I'm a woman. Sometimes, I think, you boys are liable to forget that. I've got the brain, but it takes a man to run a show like this, with a crew like mine to handle. You're the only other man I'd trust it to, but you--well, Dicky, honestly, you haven't the experience, have you?"

27. The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov. I am trying out some books to give my grandson to introduce him to Science Fiction. I think he is just the kind to like it. This book, published the year I was born, 1952, is about a planet that has been forced into serfdom to support a Galactic habit for a textile that can only be made of cotton grown on that one specific world. A spatio-analyst is the protagonist, a scientific technician who samples things like the solar winds, as well as the "nothing" that is between planets. He analyzes, by machine, the elementary particles found there, and maps them. This supports the inter-galactic agency which evaluates these results and knows what they imply. This one spatio-analyst comes up with information which he realizes implies the death of the entire solar system in which is this planet growing the raw fiber for Galactic use. He attempt to inform the planet's population are stifled by a native who is trying to help bring about a revolution. How this all breaks down is the burden of the story, and the two Galactic powers vying for hegemony are forced to evacuate the planet, leaving behind this resource until it can be synthesized. A little heavy with intrigue, but quite interesting. I will have to consult his parents to see if he knows enough political economy to understand this. Knowing my son, his father, he will.

Jul 3, 2019, 4:25pm

Looks like you’re having fun (... as long as you avoid Archer).

Jul 5, 2019, 2:23pm

>32 sallypursell: Hardly a better place to start than Asimov for that innocent science fiction of the 1950's

Edited: Jul 5, 2019, 9:03pm

>34 baswood: baswood, the sexism is quite overt, and bothersome to my grandson, who has a Ph. D. for a mother, and my son (also a Ph. D.) as a father, who, I am pleased to say, was raised gender-neutral. However, his mother and I prepared him for this, explaining how pervasive and unconscious it was, and not ill-meant, as such. He is troubled, but I hope he is able to cope with that. When I was young, I only noticed it as a mild but familiar insult. For me, growing up in the '50's, it was endemic. Thank goodness my father was very sure I could be whatever I wanted. He taught me to solder, and do Morse code, and throw a ball. I had four brothers, but I didn't feel lesser. My other sisters didn't seem to feel it either. Of course, that made moving into society a shock.

I don't want to inject gender politics into this nice forum, as it is certainly not applicable, but just parenthetically, metoo, up to and including rape. Please don't feel obligated to comment, anyone.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:30pm

28. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith. A short novel about a professor who has made his reputation on the publication of a massive tome with that that title, and about that topic. The story gently skewers the professor, his friends, and his colleagues, for their pride and competitiveness. The protagonist is a gentle man, but proud and jealous, and obsessed with his self-consequence. This book details two professional trips to Italy, and one to Goa, where he fails to win the Portuguese medal he thinks he deserves, and in Munich, where the woman he inexpertly woos marries one of his colleagues. His life is always gently disappointing, but he rests on his laurels anyway.

Edited only the number of the book in this sequence.

Jul 6, 2019, 7:46am

>35 sallypursell: It's an interesting dilemma reading stories from the past with a 21st century eye - to judge or not to judge. One could argue that this is a measure of a true classic - that it can be read at any point in time and still be assessed as excellent without having to make allowances for the period it was written.

Jul 7, 2019, 6:30pm

>37 rhian_of_oz: I'm trying to decide if that is equivalent--if one can in fact assess something as excellent without making allowances for the time in which it was written. Can you give me any example? I don't think I know of anything like that. Maybe, instead, it is finding something excellent while finding it easy to make allowances for the period in which it was written. I could conceive of reading a book which can easily be read from a different time and it making no difference if it were recast in the modern era--like Pride and Prejudice. After all, even today little sisters can be silly and unwise, parents can be embarrassing, and people can be prickly about their inclusion or exclusion into different social classes, as well as personal characteristics. And people still are awkward in social situations when they are shy, proud, or socially uncertain. The particularities are inconsequential.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:33pm

29. Forgotten and Remembered; the Duke's Late Wife (Love's Second Chance series) by Bree Wolf. Formulaic, but still enjoyable. A slightly-above-average Regency-era romance. How the Duke learns to love his second wife, whom he married for convenience. Read in ebook on my Kindle.

30. The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks. So few writers can give medical or science stories such a lyrical feel. With his usual flair, his usual profundity slowly gathered from fact and circumstance, and his usual compassion, Dr. Sacks tells the story of a Pacific Island where a large segment of the population sees only in black and white. There also is a mysterious neurodegenerative illness, somewhat reminiscent of Kuru, the neurodegenerative disease found in the New Guinea tribes who eat relative's brains as a funerary ritual, thus obtaining and concentrating a prion disease of the brain. Tracking down the cause of Kuru and elucidating prion diseases' mode of action was Nobel-Prize-winning for a creative and culturally sensitive act of epidemiology. Unfortunately, no similar act attends Lytico-bodig, the tragedy in this book. Another tragedy, explained only at the very end of this lovely book is the on-going ecological collapse of some nearby islands where deforestation and the introduction of non-native organisms combine to accomplish their despoliation and collapse of the ecology. Altogether a poignant and contemplative examination of huge topics through the medium of small events, another of Oliver Sacks' powerful books.

Edited the numbers of the books in the sequence.

Jul 9, 2019, 10:57am

>29 sallypursell: that sounds excellent. I've only read one of Oliver Sacks books, but I really enjoyed - he made a fascinating topic very accessible to a non-scientific reader. Must look out for this one - I've not heard of it before.

Jul 10, 2019, 4:55pm

>36 sallypursell: I like Alexander McCall Smith. But this is one of his series that I haven’t heard of.

Jul 10, 2019, 11:36pm

>41 NanaCC: Colleen, It was a dry and gently humorous book, and I don't know how hard I will try to find more of them. I did like it, but it didn't have as much humor as I want my silly stuff to have. I prefer Sir Terry Pratchett, and Wodehouse, of course. Still, I've read all of those....

Jul 11, 2019, 7:22am

>42 sallypursell: Have you read his The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Sally? They are a lot of fun. The audio versions are really good, if you do any audiobooks.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:36pm

>43 NanaCC: Just the first one so far, Colleen. I liked it. The only audiobook I have ever listened to was an old textbook on economics. I wanted the very basic view, and I got it. I found it hard to listen while driving, but it wasn't highway driving. I don't have any inclination to listen to books when the process of reading is so pleasurable.

I was under the weather, these past few days, and that might be a time when audiobooks would be welcome. I found reading difficult, and couldn't manage the stuff I was reading at the time. So, instead I read some mediocre fiction that was easy to read and diverting enough while I was reading it. It ended up being a compilation of romance novels by someone who writes a lot of them. (My daughter says she writes a lot of really bad romance novels for money, and she won't tell me her pseudonym. She says she would be too embarrassed if I saw them. I do see the point.) So here's what I read:

The Dukes of War by Erica Ridley

31. The Viscount's Tempting Minx
32. The Earl's Defiant Wallflower
33. The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress
34. The Major's Faux Fiance
35. The Brigadier's Runaway Bride
36. The Pirate's Tempting Stowaway
37. The Duke's Accidental Wife

I don't remember them individually very well, but they were average: readable, but in a group rather cloying. By the end of the last one I wanted it to be over--it felt as if I had been reading for a week.
Many of the common mistakes in English usage were there, such as "staunch" for "stanch", and "snuck" for "sneaked", and "candelabra" for a single candelabrum, as well as the common mistakes in writing fiction, too, such as telling us what people are thinking and feeling instead of illustrating it so that we see what people are thinking and feeling. (I'm aware that language is malleable, and I may have to get used to "snuck", but it still grabs me every time I see it, and I relax at ease when "sneaked" shows up. I know I'm a usage dinosaur.)

Now, it's not fair to hold up to ridicule the worst aspects of an otherwise acceptable book, so I will refrain. For fans of this genre this is acceptable fare for downtimes, but not really good fiction.

Edited book numbers.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:40pm

38. A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch. I finally got to the library to get some of the books that have been added to my TBR list by members of this group, this one by laytonwoman3rd, as an example of Victorian crime/mystery fiction. I loved it! I can tell you, too, that I would never make a good detective, because the killer in this mystery would never have even occurred to me, even though I had been presented with all the facts. I never have tried to figure out a mystery whodunnit because I just enjoy seeing it all unfold. Matching wits with the detective has never been of interest to me at all. This plot had a convoluted motive, method, and opportunity, all three. The reason for the first murder was unique in my reading experience, as far as I recall.

I do like the Victorian Age for fiction, as well. The culture is fascinating. There is the shocking disparity of the comforts of the upper classes with the squalor of the stews and rookeries. The poor live for a year on the same amount of money that the wealthy might spend on fripperies or one piece of clothing, or sometimes die on it. Impoverished children sweep the sidewalk and street crossings for the ease of the wealthy, hoping to get enough tips to eat on and not be beaten by their parents or gang leader, usually an older child inured to brutality by his own past. These are similar to Fagin in Oliver Twist, but are merely the lowest level manager of a multi-layer enterprise. It is hard to imagine such a place as London was at the time, but change was to come soon, partly inspired by Charles Dickens and concerned members of Parliament.

Edited sequence number.

Jul 18, 2019, 12:08am

>40 AlisonY: I think you would be well repaid for your effort, AlisonY.

Jul 23, 2019, 2:18pm

>44 sallypursell: (I'm aware that language is malleable, and I may have to get used to "snuck", but it still grabs me every time I see it, and I relax at ease when "sneaked" shows up. I know I'm a usage dinosaur.)

This is interesting to me, because I would say that, in general, I am more inclined to use "snuck" than "sneaked" in my conversation and writing, and "sneaked" is the format that tends to look wrong to me (and per Merriam-Webster, snuck has been a part of US English for over a hundred years, so I doubt it is going to disappear any time soon). But this is not always the case, which now has me wondering if my brain is applying a big of a hung/hanged logic to differentiate between the two.

Jul 23, 2019, 7:10pm

>47 shadrach_anki: I love your username, shadrach, and I have always loved that name, especially in the evocative trilogy, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I also greatly appreciated your comment. "Snuck" hurts my ear and my brain. I know it is old, which doesn't make it right. I suppose it is one reason why there are benefits in older people dying. We need to go away before the language ALL sounds wrong to us.

What do you mean by "hung/hanged" logic, though? Do you mean that being inclined to it means you use the dictionary to justify your choice? How does that make it "hung"? I'm not familiar with that term, except in the computing sense. Of course, I know of the proper usage of "hanged" as the past tense of "hang" in the sense of "hanged by the neck until dead", whereas "hung" is perfectly good usage when used in the more generic usage. I wouldn't say that I "hanged" the artwork on my walls--only "hung" would be correct. Are you drawing a parallel between the two items? Since "hanged" is only correct in one single specific legal situation, I am trying to think of a specific situation in which "sneaked" would be correct, and "snuck" would be the general term. Doesn't work for me, but is that what you mean?

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:38pm

39. Where Roses Grow Wild by Patricia Cabot. I've just begun reading The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin, and while I find parts of it thrilling, I need some easier reading for hours when I don't want to work so hard, hence the previous book. With a story that is just believable, and cliched characters (how do I type accented characters?) it was readable enough to while away a couple of hours while I accommodated myself to the 19th century naturalist's style of writing.

In this novel, the author's first to be published, a missing heir is found in the care of a Scots woman, his aunt on his mother's side. She and the boy have been living in poverty, never thinking to apply to his father's family for support, due to their disapproving treatment of the marriage. The lad is a long-lost duke now, though, and no longer disposable, as there are no other equally-qualified heirs to take up the dukedom. The boy's uncle sends agents searching, and is finally successful in finding his nephew. He is unable to understand the point of view of the child's aunt, who disapproves of the aristocracy and its entitlements, and supports a more democratic outlook. To him it seems obvious that the boy would be better off ennobled, while she believes that it might just steal his soul, even if the advantages are obvious. Needless to say, amor vincit omnia, and it no longer seems an insuperable barrier. Pleasant enough, and better than the "young adult" romances of this author's that I have read.

And on to 40. The Voyage of the Beagle. I have not finished this yet, but there is so much here that I needed to do some reporting before I went too much further. I don't know why I suddenly had to read this book. I have always been a serious admirer of Darwin's. Naturally, as in any long life, I find much in his life to deplore and things which I fail to understand. Nevertheless, to encounter his mind is a clarifying experience. His thinking is always expressed slowly and thoroughly, so that it must be accepted when it concludes; he leaves out no factors. What he does seem to leave out are preconceptions, and this, for scientists is the sine qua non, although for humans, it is perilously like being lost apart from one's core beliefs, and is therefore terrifying. Scientists, being also humans, find it a dilemma hard to circumvent. For Darwin, putting on his Naturalist "hat" means that he shucks the preconception.

For any who might not know, as a young man Darwin signed on as a ship's Naturalist, agreeing to send back to England by precarious means, specimens and observations of the trip to the scientific community. I doubt it was typical to sign on Naturalists for Navy vessels of exploration from England; this was a fortuitous agreement between Darwin and the man who identified him, the ship's surgeon, who was motivated to bring another man aboard who would be a conversationalist more to his taste, rather than a Navy officer and British tars. It was a fine opportunity for Darwin to get himself on the map, so to speak, and a benefit to the scientific community, in having educated eyes on the ground during a five-year trip to outlying areas of the Empire, and a number of new biota (although no one would have used the term the way we use it). Darwin was given leave to call upon the ship for his bed and board, and such support as they could provide, and a small grant of monies to cover needed scientific equipment and the cost of shipping specimens via any vessel encountered which was on its way back to England.

Darwin felt it incumbent upon him to keep a log, just as the Captain and Surgeon would have, so the earliest parts of this narrative are simply accounts of their travels, how they got to each spot, how long it took them, what the weather was, and what people they encountered. Darwin is taken with the beauty and majesty of Tenerife and environs. When they travel south down the Brazil, etc., side of South America, Darwin first takes time to describe and draw some of the more common krill. I can only imagine the task of observing them with a natural-light microscope with a mirror (being before the time of electric lights in microscopes), and all in a cabin or on the deck of a moving vessel!

After landing in South America, he goes overland for long periods, riding horses or walking, and camping out. Here he begins to report in more detail on geology, meteorology, and of the species of animals he observes, as well as on observed animal behavior, and human behavior in the groups he meets. He identifies animals by Latin Genus, and sometimes by species. It entrances me to picture Darwin on a horse, riding with gauchos in Patagonia, but so he did. Naturally, he tries the bolas, and gives the gauchos great amusement by getting his horse and himself tangled, and nothing else but vegetable matter.

I confess I had a special motive in reading this part; I merely wanted to make it to the highlight of this first section, when he observes, measures, and obtains the specimens of enormous extinct quadrupeda (I think it was only mammals) which obtrude from some cliffs near Punta Alta, and on the information he can observe relating to their antiquity, behavior, and diet (Chapter V). The dentition is given particular attention, as being of the greatest import in establishing both diet and food-gathering behavior. The layout of the area is considered, and the fossilized shells found with giants presented to a better expert for identification and an opinion of what can be deduced from their types and array. Darwin does not say so, but even these specimens were packaged securely, and sent to England. In time they were lost, only to be identified when they were found again in the very recent past.

(pending further reading and comments)

Edited for clarity, and then for sequence numbers.

Edited: Jul 23, 2019, 11:21pm

>48 sallypursell: In the case of hang, both hung and hanged are correct past participles, but the "regular" verb form (hanged) has a very narrow use case, while the irregular form (hung) is the more general usage. So there is a certain level of logic applied to the usage of the two forms. My brain seems to apply a similar sort of logic when it comes to snuck and sneaked; snuck is the general usage term, while I am only likely to use sneaked when talking about acting on something. So "I sneaked a cookie out of the jar on the counter" works (I am acting on the cookie), but then "I snuck back to my room with my pilfered cookie" (no object being acted upon).

Jul 24, 2019, 1:11pm

>49 sallypursell: enjoyed your Darwin commentary. Awaiting the pending comments.

Jul 26, 2019, 7:20pm

Me also enjoying your Darwin commentary

Jul 26, 2019, 9:35pm

Also a big fan of all things Darwin here. I had a fantastic immersion in his writing 5-6 years ago working for the Darwin Manuscripts Project at the American Museum of Natural History, transcribing his notes from high-res scans into XML. I think the only book of his I read straight through was On the Origin of Species, but I read a lot of his other work in kind of scattershot fashion. The Voyage of the Beagle was definitely a favorite—he was so impressionable and new to the game (though to his credit he never lost that sense of wonder, even in his last books about worms and vegetables). Doing that transcription was so wonderful and geeky—his handwriting was so atrocious that you'd have to research the Latin names for things to even hazard a guess at what he was writing about sometimes, or place names or animal anatomy... it was a lot of fun. Charlie D. will always be my main man.

Edited: Jul 30, 2019, 2:15pm

>53 lisapeet: Lisa, your experience with Darwin's mss sounds fascinating. I have had some experience editing work at Project Gutenberg in which I needed to look up latin names because they were indistinguishable in the original. That's not for the faint-at-heart, is it? Darwin's enthusiasm is contagious, that is definite, but it is rather his clarity of thought which comes through for me. Happy reading, Lisa.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:43pm

41. Hawaii by James Michener. This is a love-letter to an adopted homeland. It is a momentous work, detailing and romanticizing the four waves of immigration that peopled Hawaii. The author begins with the origin of the land, a long paean to geologic accident.This is followed by an account of one of the greatest voyages in the history of navigation--the visionary one which brought the original Polynesian settlers. In the 19th century came the missionaries--New England protestants determined to "civilize" and "bring to God" the pagan Hawaiians. This had the usual effects: some great brutality, some true conversions, and the loss of the original culture. It is impossible to say whether this onslaught was a benefit to the Islands, although some modernizing was bound to occur eventually, and this meant exposure to the Christian religion, the predominant one in England and the Americas. I wish that this had meeting of peoples had been more culturally sensitive, but I know how presentist is that wish. The work-glorifying and self-denial-exalting outlook of the Christian missionaries couldn't have been more wrong for the Hawaiians, who enjoyed life in a near-paradise, enjoyed sex as a part of life, enjoyed family, story-telling and song, and the balance of work and idleness that was allowed to them by the richness of their land. There should have been a better way to eliminate the few things that were Hawaiian and regrettable. The human sacrifice and the slavery in the islands were worth eliminating, of course. I don't see that their idolatry and the incest (in the royal family) were as horrible as the missionaries thought it. It was no worse than that of the Egyptians, whom we admire. I don't wish to insult the believers here, but Christianity seems to me just an idolatry which belonged to more "successful" peoples, who were thus able to tout their god as stronger than the others they encountered. (Please pardon the personal digression.)

The missionaries intermarry, of course, and eventually own much of the land and the successful businesses on the Islands. They import Chinese to work their fields, because Hawaiians are shiftless and don't make good slavish laborers and Chinese peasants do. Chinese peasants are also largely dispensable, being nearly endless in number, and expecting very little amenity in their lives. They expect to work long hours for little pay and live in small ramshackle huts. They intermarry as well, and have many children who consider themselves Hawaiians, not Chinese. In time they also have children who take to business, and they often run the store-fronts with which the white haoles don't want bother themselves--small grocery stores, bakeries, and laundries. Some few become tycoons.

The last great immigration to the Islands was the Japanese, who seemed less likely to turn entrepeneur. Between the world wars they came in large numbers. By the time of the second world war, when the attack at Pearl Harbor occurred, only the oldest generation found their loyalties torn between Japan and the United States; their children called themselves Americans and they volunteered for the services in large numbers, fighting in Europe, just as German-Americans were sent to the Pacific Arena to avoid conflict in their loyalties to Germany vs. the United States, including members of my family and my husband's family.

In the 20th century, all these groups began to intermarry, until a Polynesian-Chinese-Japanese-Haole was a feature of the Islands, making for a unique Hawaiian blend quite unlike the European-based one found on the mainland. When the control of the land began to pass from the missionaries' descendants to the Hawaiian businessmen, the book ends, with statehood in the US still trembling on the horizon.

Altogether, an absorbing and fascinating book about cultures mixing, well worth the time to read. And what a relief to read some prose with no errors of usage, dinosaur that I am.

(edited only to say that this is a novel--I don't think I made that clear, then further edited for sequence number.)

Jul 30, 2019, 7:02pm

>55 sallypursell: I have loved every Michener book I’ve read, but they were all years and years and years ago.

Jul 30, 2019, 11:47pm

>56 NanaCC: Colleen, I have been trying to decide if he is a really good writer or if I am a soft-touch. Sometimes I love books which appeal to my interests or to my particular brand of sentimentality. My moon is in Libra, and that probably accounts for it (I don't really believe in Astrology, but once upon a time I studied it to disprove it, and found it to be shockingly accurate. No doubt that was confirmation bias, or something like it, and no one could really believe that the position of the planets controls anything about our lives, but for a while my husband and I made a few dollars explaining birth charts to people. We didn't charge much; since we didn't believe it we felt guilty even charging for the time it took to calculate and interpret. We calculated by hand, with logarithms, from the nautical ephemerides, since it was long before we had a home computer. I don''t think there were any home computers at that time, for that matter. I consider it a curiosity now, but it's fun sometimes.) I don't always like books which I know are good books. I didn't like Midnight's Children and I hated An Infinite Jest, if I have that title correct. I want to like something about the protagonists.

Having liked so much about Hawaii, I bought some others of Michener's. I want to see if his approach carries over to places that are not beloved of him. He moved to Hawaii in adulthood, due to his enthusiasm. I don't think he can have moved to all the other places, particularly not Space.

Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 12:07am

>51 dchaikin:
>52 baswood: Dan and Barry, I thank you for your interest, and for telling me about it. I haven't failed to read on, I've just failed to type about it. I was sick for the last few days, and rather depressed, and I have spent way too much time in playing computer games and knitting. Back to the other soon, probably tomorrow.

Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 5:41am

>55 sallypursell: fascinating review. I know next to nothing about the origins of Hawaii as a place of settlement (and I'm sorry to say had never really thought about it up to now), so I learned a lot just from reading your review. Come to think about it, I don't even know much about it even in terms of modern day evolution. I'm curious as to whether it's been able to retain the charm and natural beauty of its surroundings, or whether it's suffered from a Cancun-type effect (i.e. is overrun with partying tourists and hotels).

Jul 31, 2019, 2:42pm

>54 sallypursell: Yes, just watching his thought processes take form in note format was really wonderful. Even in digital form they didn't lose any of that sense of marvel.

What kind of work did you do at Project Gutenberg?

Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 6:03pm

>59 AlisonY: Thank you, Alison. You know, I don't know anything about the modern Hawaii at all either. They freely imported foreign food crops and ornamental plant and animal species, with no regard to environmental effects, as these were unrecognized at the times with which the book was concerned. The population has greatly increased while at the same time having no additional space to use. Still, a few friends of mine have visited or lived there for brief periods, and I have heard nothing but what a natural paradise Hawaii is, and what welcoming people live there. I'd love to visit, but it is so expensive, and we watch our granddaughter three days a week, since both her parents work, and they live so close to us. It is a pleasure, but does restrict us as far as time. We also don't have all that much in the way of ready money. Most traveling would be out of our reach.

Edited: Jul 31, 2019, 7:46pm

>60 lisapeet: To be accurate, I worked as a volunteer at PGDP (Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders), which is where most of the production of Project Gutenberg takes place. They still accept volunteers. Volunteers check the work for ownership to the copyright, since only works in the public domain are accepted for processing. Different volunteers take one page at a time of a work that is being produced. There are three rounds of editing (successive editors, some of whom have demonstrated an ability to catch more subtle errors) and then three rounds of formatting. Finally, a more experienced volunteer will accept the output and re-assemble the work into a book/article/musical score/mathematical or scientific treatise, and then massage it into a coordinated whole, with a table of contents, possibly an index, possible footnotes, illustrations and a title page.

Errors or misstatements of the author's are not "fixed"; only errors introduced through the publishing and printing process are corrected, and errors introduced in scanning due to damage to the original. Certain "teams" of people who enjoy such work may proofreed and format tables, indices, mathematical formulae, or musical scores with appropriate markup languages. Versions in different e-formats are prepared. These might include HTML, Kindle, with or without rich text. After all this is finished, the work is uploaded to Project Gutenberg.

I did all of these functions except the legal work, Lisa, and I was on the Tables and Indices teams. The most challenging work I did was on the article on differential equations from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. I also did a lot of proofreading on scientific works, including the one I mentioned, which was simply old, faded, folded, and poorly printed as well. That had a lot of footnotes in Greek and Latin, German, Dutch, French, etc. I also had the pleasure of doing some of the early proofing rounds in works in a number of languages. I remember working in Malay, French, Spanish, Russian, Latin, and Greek. In Spanish I would do up to two proofreading rounds, but I didn't consider myself good enough to turn out what was considered to be adequate finished proof-reading, since I am not a truly fluent speaker.

I worked there for several years, but a long illness made me take a long break from it. I am just about to try again, since I enjoyed the camaraderie and the work both so much. I made friends around the world. We had forums to discuss both the work and life in general, and a running chat room that I monitored while working on a page. I would give the chat room 1/4 of the screen space, and 3/4 to the work in progress. I miss it, Lisa.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:45pm

Back to 40. The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin. Darwin goes on consider two of those preconceptions I referenced. First, explaining why he thinks the climate was similar to that of the same area at the time of these giant quadrupeds, he estimates the amount of food-stock of vegetation available to the animals, and the density of the animals based on the fossil evidence. He explains that there is an assumption among biologists and naturalists that numerous large herbivores in an area require dense vegetation, such as are found in jungle or forest. He then goes on to compare and contrast the vegetation density in places like India, where elephants are numerous. He explains what is known of the large herbivores in places which have vegetation like the area through which he is traveling, using the savannahs of Africa as examples, as well as some areas more arid. He adds up the weight of his best estimate of the animal load of such an area (based on recent anecdotal evidence, from conversation with a current explorer and cartographer), very like the one he is in, and compares this to the best estimate he can make of the total weight of the fossil animals he has found at Punta Alta. Finding these to be very close (he gives us his figures and estimates of weight), he believes that a certain number of giraffes, elephants, three species of rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, the bos caffer (an African buffalo), the elan (a species of antelope), two species of zebras, quaggas (wild asses), two types of gnus, and other antelopes, as well as smaller animals, find that they can exist in large herds in areas of thin grass and sparse trees. Naturally he thus gives it that ".., we are compelled to conclude, against anterior probability, that among the mammalia there exists no close relation between the bulk of the species, and the quantity of the vegetation, in the countries which they inhabit." (Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter V, p. 94) One assumption down!

Darwin goes on to consider the case of the Patagonian plains and the largest of the interesting birds found there. This is the South American ostrich. He first gives his description of their running behavior, how they hide, what they eat (vegetation and occasionally a fish) and the surprising fact that they swim! He describes the form of their sexual dimorphism, in color and size, and of the strange cries they emit. All this is in preface to his main discussion, in which he relates how he found both single eggs which never hatched, and very large clutches in shallow depressions which serve as nests. Here are the main differences between males and females. Females lay one egg at a time, every few days. Due to this behavior they are unable to brood a nest, and this is done by the males! More surprising is the fact that females lay one or two eggs in a nest, and then travel to another nest to do this again! Darwin counts the eggs in the nests he observes, and finds that they contain from twenty-two to twenty-seven eggs. The gauchos say that the ostriches often have as many as forty or fifty eggs in a nest, and that seventy have been seen. Consider how many females must contribute to each nest! Darwin gives his own observation as authority, after following hens laying and observing males sitting on the nests, but says that the indigenes of the area agree with the gauchos, and both groups attest this unexpected finding. There is even a saying that birds with dirty feathers must be "nest birds", and they are invariably males. In addition, male birds attend the young after hatching to prevent them from suffering from predation. Darwin again gives an attestation. this time from a zookeeper, that the same behaviors have been observed of the emus in the zoo, that the males brood the nest and then watch the young after hatching.

Darwin explains carefully how the egg-laying behavior of the hen ostrich necessitates that the male should sit on the nest. It takes so long to lay all her eggs at (usually) three days per egg, that the majority of the eggs would be spoiled or fail to hatch if the hen nneded to wait until she could lay all her eggs before she could sit on the eggs. The ostrich cock is more idle and well able to sit while the hen is occupied laying. He explains that the single eggs are those laid when the female found herself between nests when she found it time to lay.

Both of these examples are so well explained and so carefully observed or calculated that it feels impossible that Darwin should be wrong, no matter how many hold an opposing position. Two assumptions down.

(more pending)

On a personal note, I wish you could hear my little granddaughter say "struthiomimus". She says it perfectly, which is not what I expected. She is not quite two years old.

Edited for sequence number.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:46pm

42. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths I have to thank the ladies who recommended this series to me. It would by hard to overstate how much I liked this first novel in the series. Had I mentioned yet that my oldest son is an Archaeologist? I myself very much loved Anthropology since my youth, and then took what courses were available at my first college. In this book, Ruth, an Archaeologist, is asked by the police to comment on some bones that have been found at a site near her home, which is located near The Wash, Norfolkshire, England. The bones are iron age, which makes them very exciting to Ruth, but a disappointment to the police, who hope it is information about a recent missing child. All doesn't end there, as Ruth proves to be an asset to the police in other related matters. In time Ruth begins to suspect some friends of knowing more than they say, and in addition, she finds an ancient causeway between a nearby henge (wholly fictional) and her iron age body. In the course of all this, a kidnapped girl is found, a policeman is thus given peace, and Archaeology gains precious knowledge. I should mention that there are colorful New Age Druids involved, and quicksand, and that some of the ethical dilemmas of Archaeology are aired. So well done and involves some of my favorite interests--irresistible!

43. The Mediator: Ninth Key by Meg Cabot This is a sequel to a previous book on this list. A teenage mediator (one who guides the spirits of the dead to their afterlife has a challenging case, and nearly gets herself into serious trouble. She furthers her relationship with Jesse, the dead cowboy who can't help but live in her room, and begins to have a little social success. This series is marked by interesting story and a captivating heroine with a smart mouth. Like a more polished Buffy the Vampire Killer, this is guilty fun reading.

Edited for sequence number.

Aug 1, 2019, 9:55pm

>62 sallypursell: I'm familiar with that Project Gutenberg proofreading initiative, and I think it's really fabulous. Aside from the fact that I think crowdsourcing is a great way to get that kind of work done—the Tom Sawyer approach—just what you're saying about the community that has grown around it is what makes it wonderful. Wikipedia has something similar but I think there's a lot more infighting and tech egos attached. That Gutenberg work is a bit more on the hobbyist side, which is not to denigrate it at all—rather it's people doing it for the fun of it rather than to prove their knowledge. How fun, to have been part of that.

Aug 2, 2019, 3:43am

>61 sallypursell: The grandparent childminding issue is one that preys on my mind a lot as my mum helps me a great deal. In theory I've tried to reduce my regular childminding ask from my parents to half a day a week now that my kids are older and in school until later (so my regular childminder costs less), but as their independence grows so has the amount of after-school activities they do, so I still have to rely on my folks to do some additional pick ups when they're too late for the school bus in the afternoon but it's not worth my childminders time to help out as it's late in the day. Summer holidays are particularly difficult - we have 9 weeks to manage, so I try to do a mix of more hours from my childminder, an extra couple of afternoons from Mum and extra holiday days between my husband and myself. 3 days a week is a big commitment for you - maybe as they get a bit older that will reduce down a bit.

Aug 2, 2019, 10:58am

>64 sallypursell: I’m so glad that you enjoyed Ruth Galloway. It is another series I’ve found myself going through faster than I’d like. I’ll run out of books soon. 🙂

Aug 2, 2019, 2:08pm

Fascinating to read about your work for Project Gutenberg - I had never thought about how it all worked'

And those ostriches >63 sallypursell:

Aug 2, 2019, 6:04pm

>65 lisapeet:
>68 baswood: PG really is a great place. It was fun when you had a problem in proofing to mention it in chat and have others go take an immediate look to help you. And Lisa, you are right about the atmosphere. I met the most fascinating people working there!

Aug 2, 2019, 6:05pm

There aren't that many of them, are there? Just nine, I think.

Aug 2, 2019, 6:35pm

>66 AlisonY: Alison, my husband does the bulk of the childminding because I have had recent serious surgery, and am often under the weather with my fibromyalgia. He was a house-husband to our kids, while I supported the family, and we both love children and babies. The three days a week was his idea. Actually, I've just learned that we have another grandchild coming, and the father plans to stay home with the kids after this one is born. That makes two out of our three sons who do this, and will discontinue our duty. I have to say that their wives have great jobs; one is a chemist, and the other teaches high school social studies in our slightly upscale suburb's only high school. All the kids went there, and she will be taking the place of the main social studies teacher, who is retiring. Her husband is the Archaeologist (, and he has not found a tenured position--he says he doesn't interview well. He was a prominent and well-regarded scholar, so I find it bemusing. Anyway, he was running a dig in the summer, as he always does, and it has just ended, so he's back to the house-husband style until the winter term, when he will be teaching as an adjunct at a University near here. My husband taught part-time as an adjunct for thirty years, and misses it greatly. The other house-husband in the family is the next son, our third child, who has been working nights as a polysomnographer (he runs sleep studies). He likes the work, but would rather work during the day now that he has a burgeoning family. It is extremely uncommon to find work during the day for his specialty, although there are a few positions.

That leaves the other two--my daughter, #2 child is an Art Historian/Sculptor/novelist on Amazon. She is Amalia Pursell. #4 is an independent programmer for video games. You can find his name in the article in Wikipedia for a game named StarMade. It is Keaton Pursell.

Alison, I hope it is not poor form to talk about my family. I have not seen it done here.

Aug 4, 2019, 8:12am

>71 sallypursell: I hope it is not poor form to talk about my family. I have not seen it done here.

Oh not at all. I can't speak for others on CR, but I certainly very much enjoy finding out more about the very different lives everyone in CR leads, from where they live to their careers (past and present) and their family. As you follow particular threads over time I find it really interesting to learn more about the people behind the threads.

What fascinating and very different careers your family enjoys - that's pretty amazing. They all sound hugely interesting. Did your kids have to travel to kind the specialist type of work they were after? I can't imagine my kids having similar opportunities here in N. Ireland - it's simply too small so the competition for specialist types of careers are limited. I'd love for them to end up doing a job they really love, but sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for as that could mean they end up living in mainland UK or further afield. I'm not quite ready to think about the future empty nest just yet, but I guess it's an inevitable likelihood.

Aug 4, 2019, 8:02pm

>71 sallypursell: I really like reading about the lives and backgrounds of other people here, to whatever extent they want to share.

Edited: Aug 5, 2019, 12:43am

>72 AlisonY: Alison, we are fortunate to live in a large population center. The Greater Metropolitan Area of St Louis includes 2.8 million people, and is by far the largest city in Missouri. One hundred years ago is was in the top ten cities in the United States, although it is now 19th. I think when I was born it was 12th. Naturally, the large industries cluster around it, for the highly skilled workforce and for its importance in the healthcare industry and aviation. Our children did not have to leave St. Louis for fine Universities, except our daughter, who went no farther than Kansas City, on the opposite side of Missouri. She wanted to go to one of the top Art schools in the country. The Mississippi runs right through our Metropolitan Area, and the Ohio River is not too far south. That makes this a transportation hub as well.

For graduate school our oldest did go 150 miles away to a school that is prominent in the kind of Archaeology in which he was interested--that of the mound-builders in the central and southern US. His undergraduate degree was at a first-class university, but they don't accept their own students for graduate school. Thank goodness he was not interested in the Mayans or Uzbekistan! Two of the daughters-in-law also grew up in St Louis, and both of the oldest two boys married girls from their high schools. The youngest one moved here from Minnesota to live with my youngest son. They met on line. My daughter is not married. She would like to be, I think, but she just can't find someone who wants to marry her who doesn't have a major problem. The one we liked the most was a drug addict. She loved him, too, but had to draw the line. So sad. My daughters-in-law are so wonderful. I cannot imagine better women for my sons, all three of them. There are some things I would change about them if I had my druthers, but there are things I would change about my sons, too.

I can't believe that my oldest son will be 40 this month.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 8:47pm

And back to 40. I hope you weren't bored by the last installment, since it was so detailed.

Darwin glides lightly over some of this travels in South America. He traveled by the Beagle to Buenos Aires, and then traveled overland to various surrounding areas, commenting generally about the character of the land and the various populations of animals he observes. On the trip he is delayed for five days, I imagine for the availability of the escorts and guides available to him. He stops to give details in the geology of the area and of South America, the area between the rivers Uruguay and Parana, and this is the next fascinating part.

Here Darwin recounts the finding of several fossilized gargantuan mammals, in rock much decayed by erosion and by a recent period of flood followed by a lengthy drought. He then stops to give some thoughts on the flatness of the region, which he compares to that of the sea. He gives the distance a man (six feet in height) can see to the horizon at sea, and I wonder how he knows. Did he calculate this himself? Was it well-known? Did he ask the captain, who is a gentleman, and thus well-educated? He explains how he can tell which direction on this plain is up-hill of him. He goes into the strata he sees in the cliffs and where it is not the clayey soil of the plain.

He explains that the fossilized animals must have washed into a heap by a river, and then tells detail of the recent drought, of the large number of animals killed--in the tens of thousands, and of the piles into which they were floated by their dying in the river, which will eventually cause such deposits as he has found fossilized in the cliffs. He gives details of the marine and riverine shells and water creatures in both the fossilized and current river areas, and more on how it is possible to determine that the fossils are in the recent geologic eras.

Subsequently, Darwin relates how the border between North and South America can most properly be located at the Mexican upthrust region, and thus at the 20th parallel. He explains in lists what animals are found in North America and not South America until the arrival of Europeans. He further explains how it is known that the animals in North America came over the Bering Strait, and thus that there was at that time a land bridge from Siberia, and that the isthmus of Panama occurred much later, with uplifts of the land (or a rise in the ocean level, of course). I wonder how much of this he had known this well, and how much required research. It sounds as if he writes of these matters off the cuff from current knowledge--but it is erudite and impressive. I must add that he had very few books available to him on board the Beagle, from there being very few places to hold them and still be available to him to read. We know only that he has Lyell's Principles of Geology, for he required some study in Geology to up to the task of being enough of a general scientist to take up this post. So impressive, and so clearly explained, that a child could understand this (if he had the vocabulary)!

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Aug 5, 2019, 3:25am

>74 sallypursell: I've not been to that part of the States, so interesting to learn more about Missouri and your family life.

>75 sallypursell: I've never thought of reading anything of Darwin's before, but you're selling this one to me. Great review(s).

Aug 5, 2019, 6:29pm

>Alison, Missouri is beautiful: verdant and with a number of grand rivers, and St. Louis is cultured, but the rural areas nearby are not, and are much more conservative than the cities. The large cities all have universities, and are quite liberal, but the inner state all went for Trump, a fact which makes me grind my teeth.

My parents were liberal, and brilliant. She was an orchestral composer, and played a grand piano at our home. My father was one of the engineers involved in the Gemini and Apollo missions here at McDonnell Douglas. I have seven sisters and brothers, all of whom are interesting and very bright. Growing up in my family was very stimulating and fun, and so too was our nuclear family with the four kids. How about you? Tell me about your family.

Oh, Darwin is so much more readable than many other scientists.

Aug 6, 2019, 7:15am

>77 sallypursell: Sounds like you come from a very gifted and talented family. I can't believe how hugely interesting all your jobs are / have been!

Sadly we're not anywhere near as interesting. We live in a village a few miles from the suburbs of Belfast - we have the coast 10 minutes down the road and the mountains 30 minutes away, so we're quite spoiled in terms of our geography (if only the weather would improve!). My husband works at an engineering company, and I'm involved in a healthcare tech startup.

My eldest is about to start his second year at big school. It was the first integrated school in Northern Ireland back in the 1980s, and there must be almost a 50/50 split between Protestants and Catholic pupils to promote integration between young people at an early age (a small % is held back for other religions and atheists, but white people make up 98% of the population here - we have not had the same levels of immigration over the past 50 years as other parts of the UK, probably because it wasn't a very attractive place to set up home when the Troubles were raging).

If you are in any kind of professional career you work and have friends with people from all parts of the community, but I would say we're still split quite heavily in terms of where we live, and very much in terms of our politics. Sadly this means that most people vote on the basis of who they want to keep out of local government rather than voting for the best candidate and party, and as a result the leaders of the two main parties (which are heavily religiously biased) get away with being a complete waste of space, focusing on keeping the country looking back at our divisions rather than forward towards a better future. Our Assembly (local government) has not been operational for two and a half years because these two parties are unable to reach agreement to continue to work with each other, which is an utter disgrace, especially as they have remained paid during this period. Happily for them they've got away with it while the UK government has been focused on Brexit. It makes my blood boil just thinking about it. If they were in the private sector they would have been sacked long ago.

My daughter is still at primary school. She and her brother are chalk and cheese. One's sporty, the other hates it. One's very musical, the other has no interest. One is naturally very academic but can't be bothered, the other loves doing school work but finds it much harder going. They bring their challenges at times, but overall they're pretty good kids.

Edited: Aug 6, 2019, 7:35pm

>78 AlisonY: What do you and your husband do at your companies? All is not always rosy here, nor did our children fail to present their problems. I found parenting quite easy after growing up the oldest girl of eight children. Nevertheless I agonized about some aspects. Our daughter has schizo-affective disorder; perhaps you can imagine how that troubled me. She spent her first two years with failure to sleep, long periods of crying, hallucinations and delusions, and at the time I could not find anyone to see her for this: there was the belief that infants could not have psychosis. Our youngest son has a serious anxiety disorder, as does my husband. Our son is seldom out of the house, and does not always maintain good hygiene. My husband self-medicates with alcohol and marijuana, and has not always lived up to what I perceive his responsibilities to be. I suppose that may be common in marriages! Still, our daughter is talented and brilliant and has done amazingly well for someone so mentally ill. I failed to include her website in that other post. It is My son is the same, and skipped high school (secondary school) with my permission, but I wish he worked, left the home occasionally, had friends, and wanted to leave the nest. I cannot complain, really. He is sweet-natured and always loving, and his brilliance is apparent to everyone. He taught himself trigonometry in order to program circular special effects in computer games, and all his computer work is self-taught.

Oh, dear! TMI?

Aug 8, 2019, 5:29am

>79 sallypursell: That's families for you - we all have our issues behind the shiny front door.

My husband looks after product quality at his company and I look after operations at mine. Neither of us is living the career dream but it's not terrible either. Our work / life balance is fairly good so I can't overly complain. If I could do it all over again I'd choose something more Arts orientated, but I'm probably too long in the tooth for a career change now. Never say never, though!

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:00pm

44. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths Oh, I'm well and truly hooked by Dr Ruth Galloway. I'm sorry there are so few. I will try to stretch them out a little, but I feel that familiar urge to gulp them as fast as I can lay my hand upon them. Once again, Dr Galloway is called to give her expert opinion on some bones found, bones of a human child, but strangely, without the head. Once again she finds that instead of being bothered by them, she is strangely attracted to men who would have repaid a suspicious eye. She also begins making plans to take care of what will be her fatherless child. It is a relief to find a book which deals with obtaining a crib and baby clothes, and telling her boss, so as to deal with her eventual maternity leave. She has an ultrasound, and talks of her feelings about the pregnancy numerous times. Most books seem to skip over things like that, and considering the issues with her unexpected pregnancy gave a richness to this book. I won't give away any of the plot, in order that I not include spoilers, but DCI Nelson is pleased about the baby, to her surprise.

45. Her Majesty's Necromancer by C. J. Archer wrote that insipid historical romance I read previously, well, this is clearly his metier--paranormal romantic fiction. (Is there anyone who knows how to include accent marks on vowels?)The plots flex a little muscle, the characters are better than just irritating, and I read the third in the series with pleasure. More, I am tempted to keep reading the sequels. In this, the woman with a difficult childhood has contrived to fall in love with her supervisor in the occult secret part of England's defenses. It is a touchy relationship, but forlorn of love. More and more, though, the male protagonist is showing himself as a tortured soul, much tormented in childhood by the position he holds from birth, and the training with no tenderness or much approval that his teachers gave. It is a dangerous position for the two to be in, since the male protagonist feels he needs to keep the female protagonist in his living establishment. They make some progress with him giving her more autonomy and agency, and he begins to allow her to come with him on hunts for the ill-meaning people who want to use her talents for evil.

And back to 40. Darwin continues to give fascinating observations of wildlife, and I enjoyed his descriptions of the habits of the native buzzards, especially his wonder over their flap-less method of flight. I would guess that he has no science of the atmosphere in his background knowledge, or he would know about up-drafts. I can't remember when ballooning started but I thought it was earlier than this, but maybe their experiences weren't respected by serious scientists. (More later today)

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Aug 12, 2019, 4:27pm

>81 sallypursell: I’m glad you are enjoying Ruth Galloway. I think she’s a great character. I’ve read eight of them, and only have four books left in the series, so I’m holding off for a little bit.

Edited: Aug 12, 2019, 9:18pm

39. Darwin again gives a rapid survey of the creatures he observes in Patagonia, concentrating on the mammals, with comments upon their behavior and the unexpected nature of some of the animals species. All of it is picturesque and interesting. But it is in chapter IX that he again fascinates me, with his description of a geological mystery he finds on the Falkland Islands.

He calls them "streams of stones", and says that they have been commented upon before. He describes the valleys being littered with "myriads of great loose angular fragments of the quartz rock".
They "are not water-worn, their angles being only a little blunted" and if we are to credit it, anywhere from one foot in diameter to twenty! They are not in irregular piles, but are in level sheets or the form of rivers. Their thickness in not discernible, but Darwin estimates that it is great, with little streams heard "trickling through the stones many feet below the surface. As in rivers, the width varies from a few hundred feet to a mile. Crossing one, Darwin is able to shelter from rain underneath one of the stones.. In some valleys the, can I call it "scree"?, may reach all the way to the crest of a hill. On these crests there are stones larger than a small building.They appear broken, and Darwin imagines that lava left the streams, and they were then broken by some "giant convulsion" with great violence. One one gently rounded hill Darwin finds a huge arched fragment lying on its rounded back downward.` He thinks that not in history has there been an earthquake of sufficient strength to accomplish this violent breaking and throwing of stone. I know little of geology, but I can't help but wonder if glaciers scraped out these valleys and filled them stones dropped when their speed was decreased by the resistance of the terrain they traversed. Maybe I would feel differently if I saw this volume of stone fragments laid out they way they are.

In this work, there are XXI chapters, and I have not yet read to the comments on the Galapagos, on Tahiti, Ascension, or Mauritius. I will read, and forestall comments for now, because I'm sure I am on the verge of boring anyone who cares to read them.

Aug 12, 2019, 10:30pm

>83 sallypursell: You're not boring me! I love Darwiniana, and I love thinking of him discovering all this for the first time and applying his crazily curious mind to it.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:01pm

46. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs. This might as well be candy, for how I am drawn to them, obsessed with them, enjoying them. They are so much better than the typical paranormal romance, and as I have so often said, "There is no man so sexy as one who is in love with his wife." Mercy Athena Thompson Hauptman is married to Adam Hauptman, a werewolf who is the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack, in Washington State. There they have made a society of the paranormal, vampires, witches, werewolves, the Fae, and other such, including, Avatars, goblins, trolls, and the like. It is cooperative, not coercive, and run by consent of the governed, this being different from any other such assemblage in the world, where there is usually a situation of dangerous detente of the powerful creatures, usually the vampires, an infrequent witch (most of them eradicated in the Inquisition and the anti-witch campaigns of the Protestants of Europe), and werewolves. The Fae have left for America. Still, while in Europe Mercy does meet the Golem of Prague, in an interesting dilemma, and many ghosts, as well as the aforementioned. She was kidnapped by the Master Vampire of Milan, possibly the most powerful vampire in the world. He had been told that Mercy was the most powerful and dangerous creature in the Tri-City region. She is, but not for the reasons he has assumed, and he does not fully appreciate her power. Still, Adam, Marsilia, and Stefan (the latter two the most powerful vampires in Washington State), who cooperate in the attempt to rescue Mercedes, along with Elizaveta, a powerful witch of Russian extraction, who lives in the Tri-Cities area and is on retainer from Adam. The Goblin King of the area goes along as Pilot. This cooperation makes the coalition agile and multi-talented, and therefore more able to handle the fluid situation they find when the arrive in Italy to negotiate with the master vampire of Milan. His plot is layered and dangerous, setting up Adam and companions to handle his enemies for him. Naturally, Mercy handles herself very well, alone by herself in Prague. All goes well, although, multiple of the protagonists suffer anxiety and danger. This book lives up to its series, although it is different from the others, mostly taking place in the Tri-Cities. I wish there were more than the two books left.

Edited for sequence number.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:02pm

40. Darwin has spent much time traveling overland in South America, exhaustive trips in many directions, during which he details the geology and fauna and flora of each area. I will give you just one impressive detail:
...on these journeys the first night is generally very uncomfortable, because one is not accustomed to the tickling and biting of the fleas. I am sure, in the morning, there was not a space on my legs the size of a shilling which had not its little red mark where the flea had feasted.

And in addition, I will mention only that Darwin was in the near neighborhood of the great 1835 earthquake of February 20. He was near enough to sail to the area of the epicenter the within the fortnight to see the city of Concepción, Chile, which was nearly leveled. The estimated strength of that earthquake was 8.1 (Richter). Since this was before the invention of the seismograph, no measurement could be made, of course. The Wikipedia article on this earthquake quotes Darwin from this very work, to describe the experience of the earthquake and its effects, its length, the number of aftershocks, and something of the condition of Concepción. He also visited and described the condition of Talcahuano (the port), which was nearly swept clean by the resultant tidal wave, and had a schooner deposited in the midst of the ruins, 200 yards from the beach.

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Aug 16, 2019, 3:12am

>86 sallypursell: I love how stoically old school British that quote is. He's been ravaged by fleas yet he makes it sounds like a slightly annoying inconvenience.

Aug 16, 2019, 4:06pm

>87 AlisonY: And to think that he implies that this happens every trip, and is just part of the price of the exploration he makes so frequently!

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:03pm

40. Darwin, in Chapter XV, just detailed an expedition of 24 days during which he crossed two ranges of the Andes, near Valparaiso, at the Portillo and Uspallata passes, in order to observe the wildlife and geology of the two sides of the Andes, and the alpine area between the two peaks. After crossing in both directions he finds himself at Santiago, and thence returns to Valparaiso. He reports that at one point he knows he is at higher than 14,600 feet, due to knowing the published height of the passes. And indeed there are mountains of over 21,000 feet nearby, as well as Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Western and Southern hemisperes (22, 841 ft.). Suffering from the air-hunger and lack of energy I remember from a day spent at Loveland Pass Colorado (11,990 ft/3655 m), he says he does not find them too debilitating!

In his words:
My excursion only cost me 24 days, and never did I more deeply enjoy an equal space of time.

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Aug 17, 2019, 10:03pm

>89 sallypursell: I love his geological sketches from that journey.

Aug 18, 2019, 7:22pm

>90 lisapeet: I had never seen those before! Thank you. I wonder if there is a poster available somewhere?

Aug 18, 2019, 7:56pm

>91 sallypursell: I don't know, but there should be. Wouldn't it be cool to have a reproduction wrapping around a few walls in a kid's room?

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:04pm

47, 48, and 49. Three books in the Reluctant Brides collection from Amazon. Not worth remembering individually. I am rather embarrassed that I read them, but they were just right for some days when I was sick.

50. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron, in the Deborah Knott series. I didn't love this series right away, but it had grown on me towards the end. I'll definitely try another. In this entry Deborah takes on an investigation of an 18-year old murder, and walks into the middle of several murder attempts. She does solve the murder, but at a terrible cost which might very well have eventuated without her work. I think my problem was that I didn't like many of the people who surrounded Deborah. I'm sure I could learn to, though.

Edited for sequence number.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:17pm

51. Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood. On Netflix I was decidedly not drawn to the character of Phryne Fisher, the protagonist of this book. But the book was great! Phryne uncovers and brings to arrest the movers of a cocaine distribution and sales scheme. She also manages to escape from them, liberating her lover in addition. Phryne is what my husband would call "a force of nature". Her lover in the book is what some women called "a sheik", which I think is a similar creature. I'll be reading more from this series, too. All of the suggestions I got at CR have been really good ones.

>92 lisapeet: Lisa, it would be. One of the best gifts I gave one of my sons was a print made from one of the original Cuvier plates. It detailed the anatomy of the octopus and squid, as well as the Nautilus shell, I think. Beautiful. I had it framed for him and it hangs on his bedroom wall even now. I should mention that he is besotted with cephalopods, especially octopuses (octopi, octopodes, the plural of octopus depending on your preference.) He wears tee shirts with them, has stuffed ones, little cartoons of them, netsuke of them, etc.

40. Darwin recounts his visit to the Galapagos in Chapter XVII. I was psyched to read his comments on the finches, etc., and I was originally a little disappointed. He notes the different sizes of the beaks, then moves on. It isn't until almost the end of the chapter that, after speaking to the governor of the islands on the high number of apparently indigenous species, seen nowhere else on the planet, that he begins to realize how individual the flora and fauna of each island is. Each island, although similar in altitude, and having similar weather and vegetation, nevertheless has different organisms from the other islands, and he begins to wonder how this came about. He goes on at great length about the variations in the tortoises, other reptiles or amphibians, the birds, including the Darwin's finches (later so-called), the mammals, and the flora, giving statistics about what percentage of the animals and plants are common to the island groups, what percentage shares obvious lineage with American organisms, and how many are found to be distinct on each island, and distinct from the animals and flora of the mainland. They have little in common with other Pacific island organisms. The weight of the evidence is heavy, and his ability to identify which animals are distinct to the islands is extremely impressive. I know that some comments were added later, but I remain stunned at the completeness of his biological familiarity.

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Aug 25, 2019, 9:41am

>94 sallypursell: I thought Essie Davis portrayed the written Phryne Fisher very well. There are other things in the television version that don't match the books (Phryne's love interest being the main one) but the actors do such a good job that I've come to view the books and the show as two different things. I'm looking forward to the movie.

Aug 25, 2019, 8:17pm

>94 sallypursell: One of the best things about reading Darwin's work spread out over the course of his life, in my opinion, is that you see ideas clicking for him YEARS down the line, and then again even later. All his findings marinated in his brain and he never stopped making connections... and often they took a while to sink in for him.

I'm a cephalopod fan too. Has he read The Soul of an Octopus? One of my favorite books from a few years back.

Aug 30, 2019, 3:04am

>96 lisapeet: Lisa, a few years ago my son (by name Keaton) stopped his habit of reading, and now does everything on-line. I am a little disappointed, because when he was young he read constantly. The Soul of an Octopus is in my TBR pile, and I own it, but I can't imagine him reading it. I will tell him about it, though, just in case. Almost the same thing happened to my husband who was a dedicated reader at one time, and now only reads on the computer. We are a big computer family. Sometimes we have as many as 10 or so computers up and running at the same time. We had a PC almost as soon as they were available.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:19pm

>95 rhian_of_oz: Hi, Rhian. Thanks for stopping by. I guess I'll try watching, then. I'm glad to have someone's opinion, someone who has read the books, especially.

52nd. Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. Oh, I really liked this. Corinna Chapman, the main character, is thoroughly engaging. Her love interest is fascinating. Her bakery is delightful, and the ancillary characters are so very vivid and interesting. I also loved The Insula. I could live in a building like that, although I love my detached house. I particularly liked that she was a little overweight and not really upset about it. Her lover thikngs she is beautiful, and doesn't dislike her flesh. I imagine her as a Rubens woman, with that pearly skin and lavish curves. I will be seeking out the next one in this series very soon.

(Edited only as to the ordinal number of this book.)

40th (still) Darwin has just recounted his visit to Tahiti , near the end of his voyage. He has considerable praise for the "natives", and is lenient when considering the ways in which they fail to observe the Christianity and behavior customs of Europe. He admires the scenery and climate very much as other visitors do, but he takes the trouble to travel into the rain-forest interior, and observes it more closely than the typical European might. Naturally her makes comments on the wildlife and flora. Not one of his lengthy entries, but nevertheless intriguing for the perspective he brings to the difficulty of leaving behind historical customs and devotions. I am loving reading this serious work at this slow pace.

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Aug 30, 2019, 7:50am

>98 sallypursell: How does this book/series, Earthly Delights, compare to Greenwood’s other series, Cocaine Blues? I see that you’ve read both “first” books recently. Did you like one over the other?

Aug 30, 2019, 11:14am

>99 NanaCC: I liked Earthly Delights more. I found the characters more sympathetic. I can't imagine being like Phryne, but the baker? Oh, yes.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:21pm

40th Darwin on being at the Antipodes:

The meridian of the Antipodes has likewise been passed; and every league, it made us happy to think, was one league closer to England. These Antipodes call to one's mind old recollections of childish doubt and wonder. Only the other day I looked forward to this airy barrier as a definite point in our voyage homeward; but now I find it, and all such resting-places for the imagination, are like shadows, which a man moving onwards cannot catch.

Not the Darwin of his typical image, is it? He is often reflective, but seldom mystical. After five years away he surely longs for home: it is not a wonder that he does.

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Edited: Aug 30, 2019, 7:03pm

Does anyone know? Is there a singular to Antipodes, like Antipous? It would make both linguistic and explanatory sense. Oh, I see there is an historical example of "antipode" in the singular, but the derivation is from Greek through Latin--"anti" and "pous" (foot)m just as I suspected. Do the rest of you reflect on things like this? The only people I've ever met who do are in my family, but there must be philologists who do, don't you think? My daughter drew a picture of the family once, and I am in it musing on whether a word is Latin or Greek.

Sep 1, 2019, 12:43am

Oh, Darwin. For the first time ever, I could wish that you were a little different in your interests. If only he had been equally skilled in epidemiology, we might have had vaccination before Pasteur, and better treatment of epidemic disease.

Darwin has now seen New Zealand and Australia. He is not impressed with the scenery, and his tolerance for the indigenes is here less than in Tahiti, where he saw "the noble savage". The facial tattoos he sees on these tribes incline him to see them as dangerous savages, lower on the scale of being. Their body habitus does not inspire him with the feeling those graceful and friendly natives in Tahiti did. They seem squat, square, and their visages continue to look warlike to him. Their habits do not inspire admiration.
Looking at the New Zealander, one naturally compares him with the Tahitian; both belonging to the same family of mankind. The comparison, however, tells heavily against the New Zealander. He may, perhaps be superior in energy, but in every other respect his character is of a much lower order. One glance at their respective expressions, brings conviction to the mind that one is a savage, the other a civilized man. It would be vain to seek in the whole of New Zealand a person with the face and mien of the old Tahitian chief Utamme. No doubt the extraordinary manner in which tattooing is here practised, gives a disagreeable expression to their countenances. The complicated but symmetrical figures covering the whole face, puzzle and mislead an unaccustomed eye: it is moreover probable, that the deep incisions, by destroying the play of the superficial muscles, give an air of rigid inflexibility. But, besides this, there is a twinkling in the eye, which cannot indicate anything but cunning and ferocity. Their figures are tall and bulky; but not comparable in elegance with those of the working-classes in Tahiti.

But their persons and houses are filthily dirty and offensive: the idea of washing either their bodies or their clothes never seems to enter their heads. I saw a chief, who was wearing a shirt black and matted with filth, and when asked how it came to be so dirty, he replied, with surprise, "Do not you see it is an old one?" Some of the men have shirts; but the common dress is one or two large blankets, generally black with dirt, which are thrown over their shoulders in a very inconvenient and awkward fashion. A few of the principal chiefs have decent suits of English clothes; but these are only worn on great occasions.
He is careful to give them their due:
In their own arts they are admirable. A cap being fixed at thirty yards distance, they transfixed it with a spear, delivered by the throwing-stick with the rapidity of an arrow from the bow of a practised archer. In tracking animals or men they show most wonderful sagacity; and I heard of several of their remarks which manifested considerable acuteness. They will not, however, cultivate the ground, or build houses and remain stationary, or even take the trouble of tending a flock of sheep when given to them. On the whole they appear to me to stand some few degrees higher in the scale of civilization than the Fuegians.

My sentiment comes from his short but careful consideration of the phenomenon of the extirpation of native populations following their contacts with Europeans. almost always from epidemic disease. The carriers of the diseases are not sick themselves, and yet contact with them lays waste to the native populations. The diseases may be what Darwin considers minor and childhood diseases, like measles. Darwin carefully gives numerous examples, from North America to Polynesia, and concludes that the loss of the tribes is so severe that they will be caused to be extinct in no long time. He does not speculate as to the mechanism of this repeated event, but how sad! Pasteur is only about 20 years away (to the best of my recollection), and of course Arab, Indian, and some Asian populations have been vaccinating for over a thousand years. Darwin's fine brain, if applied to this problem, could have saved millions of lives, but of course this problem is not to his scientific taste.
The number of aborigines is rapidly decreasing. ... This decrease, no doubt, must be partly owing to the introduction of spirits, to European diseases (even the milder ones of which, such as the measles, prove very destructive), and to the gradual extinction of the wild animals. ... Wherever the European has trod, Death seems to pursue the aboriginal. We may look to the Americas, to Polynesia, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia, and we find the same result. ... It was melancholy at New Zealand to hear the fine energetic natives saying that they knew the land was doomed to pass from their children. ... The Rev. J. Williams, in his interesting work, says, that the first intercourse between natives and Europeans, "is invariably attended with the introduction of fever, dysentery, or some other disease, which carries off numbers of the people." Again he affirms, "It is certainly a fact, which cannot be controverted, that most of the diseases which have raged in the islands during my residence there, have been introduced by ships; and what renders this fact remarkable is, that there might be no appearance of disease among the crew of the ship which conveyed this destructive importation."

In closing, I conclude that the world missed a great epidemiologist in Darwin.

Sep 1, 2019, 6:07am

>57 sallypursell: I'm fairly certain I read a fair bit of early Michener in Readers Digest Condensed Books in the 60s :-) and a couple in paperback in the early 70s.

>97 sallypursell: I have made a comment or two to my children about my being a little sad not to see books in their hands. They all admonish me and say they STILL READ; it's just copious content online. The middle one will occasionally read an actual book because her hubby does. My youngest turns 35 today.

Sep 2, 2019, 2:18am

>104 avaland: Both my son and my husband say the same thing. Can it be equivalent?

Sep 4, 2019, 11:32am

>99 NanaCC: I prefer the Corinna Chapman series to the Phyrne Fisher series and I've read almost all of both (still waiting for The Spotted Dog to come out in a smaller size).

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:22pm

40 I finally finished The Voyage of the Beagle and I'm so glad I read it! Near the end he comments on the extinctions of native forms caused by the introduction of English native species to the Island Mauritius, for which he has great praise. He likes St Helena, as well, but not as much, and visits Napoleon's tomb there. After brief stops at Ascension Island, and Brazil (to finish the circumnavigation of the world), he arrives home in England. After five years away he has inexpressible joy in homecoming, and this finishes the book. What a fine experience was this book!

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Sep 6, 2019, 8:12am

>105 sallypursell: Yes, certainly for nonfiction, more like essays than full books on any subject, of course.

Sep 6, 2019, 9:25am

I have just read my first graphic novels. Do we list those? There are very short as to reading material.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 9:23pm

53. Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson has a superficial, but well-polished charm and bonhomie. Somehow I have always found him a little smug, even a little patronizing. I accept that this is personal, in some way, because no one else seems to notice it. I'm sure it is hard to negotiate a world when one is smarter than almost everyone else; he has done admirably. Sometimes I wonder if we seem like intelligent pets to him, or if he is aware of how he manipulates us to like him.

This book is a collection of short pieces of terrors or mysteries that exist in the astrophysical world, and which Dr. Tyson feels will fascinate us. They are certainly wondrous. I have always found this realm one of great fascination. Still, I can work up little fear for the coming expansion of our sun into a red giant, which will consume the earth. We will not be here, and I doubt that any descendants to which we would feel a connection will suffer. The Earth has cleansed itself before, and will no doubt do so again.

We may be the only creatures which accomplish our own destruction, or we may only be the first in a series of such. In any case, I would be surprised if we last as long as the dinosaurs did. Many seem to be sentimental about the extinction of humans; I am not. It is the natural history of a species to arise and to go extinct--it is only the time period which may startle. I do hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren do not suffer unduly. Come serious global temperature change, this part of the country should be okay for arable land, and not to be under water. I think the great inland sea was a charming addition to our continent, but I would as soon forego it for the nonce.

Yet Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
as Job says.

I am equally unworried about the eventual collision of our galaxy and Andromeda, if nothing intervenes. Such grandeur of spectacle! Such cosmic forces arrayed for our mutual destruction! Gravitational forces are the executioners of the Heavens, as they are our Architects.

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54. Podkayne of Mars by Robert A Heinlein Considering how sexist he is, Heinlein does a pretty good job of a female protagonist--a teenager. Of course, her brother is the hero, and of course, in his planned ending, she dies at the end. A successful female protagonist is too much to handle, whatever her ambitions. I enjoyed this, though, and the younger, smarter, brother, who is always enigmatic, is interesting enough. He is much too smart for his listed I.Q.--160--and she may be too ordinary in her thinking for hers--145. There is something about that 160 that stupefies people. This child thinks rings around everyone else. I don't know why other people can't imagine this level of intelligence; it isn't another species. I think it would just be yet more incisive and with better (more multiplex or multifarious) connections between things. I don't believe that there is anything that a 130ish person can't understand, given enough time and explanation.

Anyway, Podkayne is a near relative of the Plenipotentiary Ambassador from Mars to the Three-Planets Conference, and the danger inherent in the politics complicates and endangers the life of the whole group. She and her brother, as the supposedly naive youngest members, come directly into the mix. Too bad they really are naive. They fall prey to a plot, and succeed in foiling it only at great, and permanent, cost. The publishers made Heinlein write an ending in which Podkayne is severely injured, but not killed. The edition I have obtained is the first paperback edition, from 1963, and touts a contest to choose the ending that will be forever printed in future editions. Both of the extant endings are in this edition. I did enjoy reading both, and I have no idea what the "permanent" ending came to be.

Now I have to decide whether it is too sexist to give to a young friend for a fourteenth birthday. At the very end, the Ambassador berates a friend for the behavior of his wife! for working at an important job while she has kids to raise. That part made me want to spit fire. This woman is an important and successful engineer. I'd like to see someone tell my daughter-in-law the chemist that she shouldn't work because she has a child! I don't think the pieces would be big enough to carry home in a basket. As for telling my son to control his wife--I imagine his jaw dropping, and then laughter. My other daughters-in-law are less fierce, but equally accomplished and committed to their careers. My sons would never consider making decisions for them. And of course they learned this because I was so committed to my career, and my husband would never consider trying to control my work behavior. I know I don't need to go on: this ship has flown. But give me a chance to be a star ship captain, and Podkayne might have a rival or colleague.

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I've decided that I will include Graphic Novels. Therefore:

55. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman. A beautiful Graphic Novel of Snow White, rewritten. This is instead a Vampire story, but the pictures, by Colleen Doran, are gorgeous. She lists a debt to an Irish artist, Harry Clarke, for whom I shall have to become aware. The style is heavily stylized, perhaps inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites, and Klimt, among others. It is so heavily ornamented and textured, that ornament is a topic of importance. I am indifferent to the horror story, in favor of the beauty of the book.

56. Mercy Thompson; Homecoming by Patricia Briggs
An origin story for the series of which I am so enamored. As origin story it would be better in novel form, I think. As Graphic Novel, it is evocative, but not that good-looking. Interesting, but not as special as the characters and story are in the novels.

57. Mercy Thompson; Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs (others)
Briggs has led us to belief that the Fae police themselves quite effectively, just as the werewolves do, but in this case, a member of the Fae who has been "kicked out" of the reservation comes to town, and Mercy and the pack, of course, have to deal with it, with the able help of the Vampire Stefan. The Horror is more evident in this Graphic Novel, and again, the pictures are evocative. It is still not that good-looking in comic form. Maybe I was spoiled by Neil Gaiman. Still, why do it in comic book form, if the form will not enhance the work? I like the novels better.

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58. World War Z by Max Brooks. Well, I expected this to be a zombie adventure story of some sort, and I guess it was, but it was way better than it had any right to be. The ending sagged a little, but otherwise, I think there were parts of this I may never forget. If you don't already know about this, it is an oral history of the world war against an enormous number of the undead, due to a virus of some sort that was highly contagious. Whenever a human succumbed to a zombie attack the zombie army was increased by one. Worse, they did not need to eat or sleep, and anytime the head was intact they continued to attack and eat humans. They were an indefatigable army. Eventually, mankind finds out how to fight back, and this is the story told by the survivors--all different kinds. From a Japanese man who was blinded by the Atomic Bomb to an American nun who defended her whole Sunday school class with a long candlestick for three days, the cast varies. So many of the stories brought a lump to my throat. So many of these people are mentally and emotionally damaged. Imagine clearing the ossuary below Paris in the dark, in water, with minimal weaponry. Imagine the dead walking out of the surf onto every beach. Imagine the heroes. Imagine the victims. It was horrific, but beautifully rendered. I am grateful to have had the experience, as difficult as it was.

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59. Critique of Criminal Reason by Michael Gregorio It doesn't sound like it, but this is a mystery about a serial murderer. Involved as detectives are Immanuel Kant and a young protégé, a young man named Hanno Stiffeniis. It is a convoluted tale, and with chills aplenty.

(However, I have to ask--why do the people in books get horrified so easily? I suppose I might feel the same in their shoes, but the most amazing thing to me in nursing school was how unshockable I was. I won't mention some of the things that might have shocked me, because many would be bothered, I think. One time I happened upon a "gross-out" competition among young men. I just thought they were comparing interesting stories, and when I told one of mine they all shut up and one said, "You win." I suppose they were suburban young men with limited experience.)

The murder weapon was unique in my limited experience, the possible murderers were inexplicable to me, and the solution one I would never have imagined.

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60. The Best of James H. Schmitz. Is there any more charming SF writer than Schmitz? His books, while being very serious, are as funny as they come, barring Terry Pratchett and Wodehouse, of course. The Witches of Karres is one of my favorite books ever, and these short stories are amazingly imaginative, don't seem sexist at all, and couldn't be more provocative of thought.

Highly recommended.

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61. Origins Reconsidered by Richard E. Leakey This is a revision of an earlier book, Origins, both times written by Roger Lewin and Richard Leakey. It is first, a re-telling of the story of finding his Turkana boy, the find of a lifetime. A nearly complete skeleton of Homo erectus, all but the fingers and toes, it is the only one so found. Telling us more about the species than any other, it is a paleoanthropological miracle.

The sections of the book are labelled:

Part One:In Search of the Turkana Boy
Part Two: In Search of Beginnings
Part Three: In Search of Humanity
Part Four: In Search of Modern Humans
Part Five: In Search of the Modern Human Mind
Part Six: In Search of the Future

and retell the story as it suggests, zeroing in on what madeHomo erectus a watershed species, one that suddenly gives the feeling of a modern Human organism, as opposed to the earlier Homo habilis, which doesn't. He speculates on what is a Human, what is a Modern human, and what we know about these questions, from the fossil record, and from sophisticated analysis of the fossils found. In the end, he is looking for evidence that the Modern Human Mind is already present in Homo erectus, that his feeling of being in the presence of a cousin of sorts is supported by evidence.

He seems to give measured evidence, presenting theories which differ from his own, along with his own, and the evidence to support it. He carefully mentions, at times, the problem of having a theory, in that its suasion is to believe evidence which supports you, while discounting evidence which disproves your beliefs.

The tragedy of this book is that it was published on the eve of some of the greatest discoveries of modern times: the findings of Aredepithecus, Sahelanthropus,and the Denisovans.

So is the book worthwhile, in the light of the great deficiency of missing these species? I believe that it is, in that it is a careful look at the history of the finding of human ancestors, and the ways in which paleoanthropologists find information, by excavation, and by analysis.

I took my time reading this book, because I didn't want to fail to notice when Dr. Leakey was handicapped by these recent findings. I didn't really find many, though, because he was so careful, and because his speculation was clearly indicated as such. I wish he had written a further book, including these. I hope someone else has, and I'll be looking. Does anyone know of any?

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Sep 15, 2019, 7:59pm

>60 lisapeet: I don't know, but is he the archeologist Louis Leakey's son? (Nevermind, I went ahead and Googled him and yes he is.)

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62 Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire A detective story about a half-fae P.I., a vassal of a full-blooded Fae Lord, and a knight, due to her performance in some fairy fracas that is over now. She is under a geas to discover a murderer, and almost gets killed several times. Colorful characters. The plat is a little clunky at times, but this was enjoyable. I will try the second one. The main character is called October Daye. This was an ebook.

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Sep 18, 2019, 8:22am

Brilliant stuff still coming to us on Darwin and I enjoyed your review of Podkayne of Mars

Sep 18, 2019, 8:53pm

>119 baswood: Thanks. I was beginning to think I was writing for myself alone, which should be enough, of course. Even so, to put in this effort it requires an audience, and I appreciate your comment very much.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:00pm

63. Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley I'm going to have to give up romance novels if I can't find better ones than this. Utterly forgettable, pointless, and unbelievable. In this novel we are asked to believe that a daughter finds her father cold and cannot work out why. She has managed to teach her traumatized, nearly-mute brother to speak. and meet life head-on. Their neighbor, a Duke, has a mute daughter and he wants this heroine's help. It turns out that the heroine daughter is the product of the father's wife's infidelity with a negro dancing-master, and thus a mulatto. The Duke's daughter is likewise a product of the wife's infidelity. We are asked to believe that eventually the duke falls so in love with this neighbor's daughter that he will marry her despite her birth and her mixed race. It is a bonus that she may be able to teach his daughter to speak. Oh, please!

64. The Unhappy Medium: A Supernatural Comedy by T. J. Brown This novel was interesting to me because it is the story of a disgraced physicist who is chosen by a consortium of the dead who guard really really bad guys in Purgatory, trying to prevent them from fomenting evil upon the earth. They want him to be their agent on earth, finding and destroying the artifacts and relics that these baddies left behind, the items that enable them to still be active in the world. It is a silly premise, and silly is what I expected. It is very slow-moving at first, hard to read, as we learn of the physicist's loss of his fabulous television career and his loss of status, his loss of financial security, and his loss of a marriage that doesn't sound worth having, to tell you the truth. He is disdained by his ex-wife and daughter, and he deserves it.

I was considering giving up on this book until it began to move into the absurd story of the great evil that he is meant to prevent--the possession of a soulless real-estate salesman by a truly evil, dead Grand Inquisitor, who will begin yet again to burn and torture the innocent and merely normally sinful to enhance his pleasure and the acquisition of worldly wealth and influence.It doesn't sound funny when you put it this way, does it? Still, as I passed the half-way point this got funnier and funnier, until I was chortling aloud during the grand confrontation between the forces of good and of evil in some exurban English town. It is not that the evil aren't effective; they are very effective. It began with the commando troops of the Good, various pensioners and Church Ladies who arrive with the Good of varied sects of Christians and non-Christians in their church buses and vans, with their assault rifles and other weapons, ready to take on the goons who await them in a disused mental institution. (Of course!)

Wait! That still doesn't sound all that funny! I guess T J Brown needed all those pages to build the humor gradually. I can't say that I recommend this, because it simply takes too long to build (First novel problems, I think.) But the payoff is grand fun.

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65. Uprooted by Naomi Novik. If the last two were so-so, well, this one is terrific, and well worth the read. It begins with this intriguing sentence:
Our Dragon doesn't eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.

You would think that this tells you all that you need to know about this book. Okay, it's a dragon story, and the dragon takes maidens, as dragons tend to do. The village apparently gives the girls calmly, one guesses as a tribute, to prevent the dragon from marauding--eating the livestock and burning the crops and homes. The problem with this, is that all of this is wrong. "Our Dragon" is a man, no one knows why he takes the girls, but they never live in the village again. Although the several villages in "our valley" do give him some tribute in the form of food and tools, he shows up to help them whenever strange problems emerge from "the Wood". The Dragon is their shield, well worth the tribute, because the Wood sends weird attacks of some kind on an irregular basis, and he has always been effective to win the day.

The mysteries won't stay mysteries in the book, because this book is the story of the next girl that is taken. Her story is nothing you might have expected, and her final living situation is a complete surprise. I don't want to tell you what happens, because it is too fascinating watching it unfold. I will ask a question: Would you cast a spell called Truth, knowing it will fix a serious problem, but also reveal your own feelings which do not reflect well on you?

This may be a fantasy, but it is real. No characters are left unrevealed in all important particulars. They are real too. Although the Wood loses, in most senses, the Dragon and his assistants pay large prices for the win. The pain is real, too, and it is worth experiencing the reader's share of it. Read this book.

Edited the next day to say that I just learned that this won the Nebula Award.

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Sep 30, 2019, 11:38pm


just testing

Oh, that worked. I found the right thread for this.

Oct 1, 2019, 8:35am

>123 sallypursell: Oh good. I was just coming here to give you the info, but you’ve found it yourself. :-)

Oct 1, 2019, 1:03pm

I’m just caught up and would have had a lot to say of I had caught up sooner. Enjoyed your trip through Darwin (and some of the comments, and the geological sketch Lisa linked to). I do hope Michener isn’t your definitive word in Hawaii. Fascinating place and history. I haven’t read that Michener, but I know his novel bothers a lot of Hawaiians. Sarah Vowell treats Hawaii with a lot of nuance in Unfamiliar Fishes...but she doesn’t orient the reader well - you have to know what she’s getting at.

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>125 dchaikin: I'm very pleased to have a recommendation about Hawaiian history. I wasn't trying to read something authoritative, but I'm happy to do so. Naturally, Hawaiians would have some problems with Michener's book--he would have had to thoroughly prune the story; otherwise there would be too much for a good novel. I think Michener tends to write such that he sounds an omniscient source; he may very well feel that he is. He is great at what he does, but he is painting with broad strokes, I think.

On a list of recommendations here I found several likely books, and I will look for some, including the one you mentioned.

I'm glad you liked my Darwin journey. I think I want to read more of his, but not perhaps his great work on beetles. (I think it was beetles.)

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Repeated post, since deleted.

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66. Archangel's Prophecy by Nalini Singh I read this fairly recently, but realized I didn't remember it as well as I wanted to in order to read the sequel. Has a huge cliffhanger, wherein both the Archangel of New York and Elena, his consort, are enveloped in a chrysalis of sorts and we don't know what will be their conditions and circumstances when they emerge.

67. Archangel's War by Nalini Singh. This is a series I have enjoyed about Angels as aliens more than supernatural beings and the various other species who interact with them: humans, and vampires, primarily. While I liked all the previous books, this one is not good. It is written perfunctorily, and is filled with "fucking" and the like (which is okay when it is appropriate, but here is strangely increased over earlier books). It feels as if the author was rushing to fill a contract number of books and couldn't really be bothered. It did answer the questions posed by the cliffhanger in the previous books, and I can't say the general thrust of the novel is out of joint. It is more the rushed style and the way every character seems to speak and react the same way. I was disappointed.

68. The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. I'm still re-reading books for their suitability for today's children. This one was a favorite of mine when young, but the moralism of the book has not held up as well as Heidi did. The five children are family members who find a Psammead (which we are told is a sand-fairy) who is able to give them a wish a day. The intent of the book is to show the usual story that wishes always go wrong and cause some undesired consequences. I don't mind that idea, but there is a thread of anti-science about this, and a Victorian flavor of economics. The narrator says that this is a poor family, for instance, yet they have servants enough to take over the routines of the household when both Mother and Father are called away. I cannot imagine trusting my children to servants and leaving, but I suppose these have been in their posts a while, and are relied upon. I think this disparity would be confusing to a modern child, but I may not give them enough credit. I didn't have trouble imagining the feelings and life circumstances of children from other times and places, I don't think. Why should they?

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69. Diary of a 6th-grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson. Yet another book I am testing for its suitability for my grandchildren. This time I am really enthusiastic. In this short book, a boy is forced to start a new school in the fall, because his family has moved. His cousin goes to his new school, and she's pretty cool, but the two cousins unexpectedly are asked to join a secret Ninja band composed of their age-mates. They are not allowed to tell any adults about it, and the secrecy is bothersome to the kids. They are then asked to do things to their friends' detriments, as initiation rituals.

Eventually they are implicated in a felony theft case, and they are asked to implicate someone else as the price of being rescued from this dilemma by the ninjas. At that point their classmates don't like the goings-on, and they don't like them either. With the support of some of the bystanders all is cleared up without revealing the Ninja clan. Our hero replaces the boss of the Ninjas, who are still secret, and with his honesty and friendly attitude he becomes more popular than he ever was in his previous school. His cousin stays cool, and they become friends, too. I will buy two of these, because I have one 10 year-old and one 9 year-old among my grandsons and very close great-nephews. There are girls in this book, but it is clearly meant for an audience of boys. I know these particular boys will share these books with their big sister, if she wants to read them. All the kids are big readers.

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70. The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths This continues with the saga of Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic and academic archaeologist. Her baby Kate is now several months old, and Ruth is still getting used to single motherhood. She is torn by her desires to continue to have an intellectual and professional life versus being Kate's attentive mother. Small changes in the mother-daughter relationship are documented. Ruth is struck by her daughter's knowing who she is and needing her, Ruth, in preference to others, but she grapples with the daily need to impose on others when she wants to be something other than Kate's mother. A visiting friend hurts her by putting her fears about this into wounding words. Nelson, the baby's secret father wants to be part of Kate's life, and finds his need of Ruth inexplicable, but cannot walk away. His particularity is beginning to be noticed, and several of Ruth's more perceptive friends begin to suppose that he is Kate's father.

This all sounds as if crime and archaeology are not the primary story here. In fact, Ruth and Nelson are looking into a crime evidenced by the finding of a shallow burial in a cove at the romantically-named Sea's End village. The bones turn out to be six people, bound and shot in the head. They are about 70 years old, and, from isotopic analysis, are people who spent more years in Germany than elsewhere. Nelson and Ruth gradually learn that they are the only physical evidence of a war crime by the British Home Guard, under the impassioned command of the local acknowledged male member of the upper class. In a way, this crime story is less arresting (tee hee) than the first two, but urgency is lent by the murders of the only living people who have first-hand knowledge of the original crime. The good guys win in the end, but life is complicated enough that there is no triumphant feel. Nevertheless, this was a satisfying read, and I look forward to the next one in this series.

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71. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden Seventh-grader Zoey Albro has a difficult life. She lives in a trailer with her younger siblings, her mother, and the mother's boyfriend, who owns the trailer. She has to keep the children, who are young, out of the way, and quiet, so her mother can go to work. School is a distant priority, although she goes, and she has learned that being quiet and in the background will serve to keep her school life undemanding.

Over the course of this book Zoey begins to learn that her mother is abused--emotionally abused. She sees that her formerly competent mother has become tentative, constantly apologizing, and has no confidence. She gradually learns, by eavesdropping, that the interplay between the boyfriend and the mother is the problem, and eventually comes to the realization that their little family would be better off without the boyfriend and his trap of a comfortable trailer. Even being homeless looks better in her memory.

A teacher at school tries to help her reach for some confidence of her own, but it takes time to convince her. Eventually she talks her mother into leaving her boyfriend, and resuming a relationship with another down-at-heels single mother, sharing an apartment and helping each other.

This book is meant for young adults, of course, and I am still reading to check out possible presents for all these young people I care about. I loved it, although parts were painful. There is a great tradition of books and movies like this, of course, but we keep needing new ones for the ones coming up. Thanks, Ann Braden.

72. A Local Habitation by Seanen McGuire. Seanen McGuire has become a big name in young person fantasy the last few years, and for good reason. This one is the second novel in the October Daye series, after Rosemary and Rue, which I mentioned earlier. This one was better, but included just as heart-wrenching a situation. October, or "Toby" is a knight at the court of the Daoine Sidhe, and her liege is a Duke Sylvester, a full-blooded gentleman fairy, what has been called an Elf. He sends her to a pocket part of The Summerlands to report on the welfare of his niece, who has not been answering his calls or texts. She is asked to take a court page, Quentin, with her for his education.

As soon as Toby and Quentin arrive, right from the start, there is a creeping feeling of something wrong, but it is indefinable. Sure, the portcullis falls on their car when they arrive, and Toby and Quentin are almost cooked when the car explodes after the impact (It is a VW Bug, and the portcullis falls on the rear of the car). Sure, the computer firm is really shy of workers, and soon after they arrive, one of the few workers is found dead. The fae are collected after death, usually, by mysterious creatures called "the night-haunts", but they have not come for the several dead it turns out are lying in the basement, where they wait to either wake up or be collected. We are told that the senior staff have been dying for the last several weeks, and many of the lesser staff have left, which is why the company is so sparsely staffed at present. The COO is the niece we are looking for, and she says she has been calling her uncle frequently, but can't get through to him. He has not responded to her messages.

The things Toby has to do to solve the murders and save the princess (so to speak) are dangerous, and keep coming, and she doesn't manage to save everyone at the scene. Still, she manages to keep herself, Quentin, the niece, and several others safe at the end, and wrangles a situation where Duke Sylvester can come to the rescue without causing a diplomatic incident. It feels real, because the cost is so high, with a situation sufficiently fraught to justify that. It feels dangerous, with hidden and inexplicable agents, with unknown abilities, and possibly fatal results. It feels important, with aristocracy of the Fae involved, and functionaries of the Seelie Court (the mostly good guys of the Fae) working toward a solution. It feels claustrophobic and isolated, with a convincing lack of ability to contact anyone, and with dangerous implications in fairy politics if anyone more important makes the scene. Toby feels impotent, because some of her typical tools don't work, and there is so little she can do.

Altogether, so much better than the first book in this series. A little contrived, but not worse for that. It is full of horror-movie tropes, but it is different enough. I didn't mind at all, and this was a really new spin on this type of situation.

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Oct 8, 2019, 3:25am

>131 sallypursell: (the Octopus book) - sounds like a great YA book. I'm not even sure YA was a genre when I was a teenager. Judy Blume was about the height of it.

That's fantastic that you're doing such due diligence on your Christmas book buying for your younger family members. I bought my niece a few years ago Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and she raved about it. In the children's tent at this weekend's book festival the very knowledgeable young chap that worked there was raving about Holes by Louis Sachar for my 12 year old son. I bought it, and was then fairly gutted when he told me he's already read it in school, but he said it's brilliant and can't wait to read it again. If you haven't looked at either of those they may be worth considering depending on who you have to buy for.

Oct 8, 2019, 11:49pm

>132 AlisonY: Alison, thank you for your comments. I gave my honorary granddaughter Holes last year for her birthday, and she was thrilled to get it. I've read Miss Peregrine's, but I hadn't considered it for her. I might have to read it again. How old is your niece? Holes is brilliant, have you read it yourself?

I am a little known, in my family, for giving perfect books for the recipient, and I take this seriously. Your approval made me feel good. Thank you for that too.

Oct 9, 2019, 2:36am

>133 sallypursell: no I haven't read Holes, but the young bookseller was raving about it so much I'm almost tempted! I think my niece was almost 13 when she read Miss Peregrine's.

Oct 9, 2019, 10:47pm

I'll be reading a lot of books about Hawaii in the next few weeks. I put on reserve everything our local library had on that subject heading, then I figured I'd take the first 30-40 books that showed up, and read those. I didn't take only non-fiction, so I assume I will get mostly fiction, which is fine, as I like it better for casual reading. Some may be peripherally about Hawaii, but really otherwise not illuminating. I wanted to get a feeling of life there as well as information. It sounds like a great place to live, barring volcanoes, etc. So, hang on. It may be a bumpy ride.

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73. Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood. This is the second book in the Corinna Chapman series, and I loved it as much as the first one. Gets much more into the society in Insula, the building in which Corinna lives and has her shop, as well as the first fight that Corinna has with Daniel, as well as what happens afterwards. I'm glad my life is not like this part of Corinna's. The baking sounds fine, and I like the young people she employs. I also like the other residents of her apartment building. "Insula" was, I understand, the word Romans used for apartment buildings. When in Spain I saw a building marked "Insula Something" that had been, I was told, in continuous usage as an apartment building for about 1000 years. I wonder how they updated it, or if that was just propaganda.

As far as the book goes, I don't know how realistic the plot was, but I didn't care too much. It was believable enough for the purpose of slightly suspending disbelief and just enjoying myself.

74. Fluke, Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore. This is one of my favorite writers of what has been termed "gonzo fiction". It would be hard to explain what that includes, but you can imagine that it includes some of the believable and some of the unbelievable, but all extremely funny. I highly recommend his work. It will make you laugh, and possibly make you think.

This novel stars a marine biologist, an expert in whale song. He is doing basic research in Hawaii, recording and identifying humpback whale song. I don't imagine that it is the only question he cares about, but he especially wants to know why whales sing, and this whole book revolves around the question. Never mind that Nathan Quinn, Ph. D. is lost at sea in the middle of the book, and his research assistant, the mysterious Amy, is lost two weeks later. The latter part of the story is what happens to them after they are lost, but it is not a Robinson Crusoe/Lost/survivor story. You would never imagine what happens, and I don't think I should tell you. Amelia Earhart's daughter (she was childless) shows up, as well as Nathan's mentor in graduate school, who was also lost at sea 14 years ago. Oh, I don't know what to say to explain without giving it away. But it is possible that there will occur a war between the earliest known sentient creature on the world and mankind. Nathan, not a fan of the zero-sum game, would like to prevent this, partly because he can't learn to love the plumbing fixtures in his new apartment. He may be a nerd, but he's willing to be an action hero when needed. Please read something by this author. I have several favorites, you could read any of them. But The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove is not for first-timers, I don't think. These are suitable for older children (16 or better), although they do have some bad language and implied sex. Both of those are situation- appropriate, and not very graphic.

Oct 10, 2019, 11:24am

The ‘Octopus ‘ book sounds like one I might recommend that my daughter check out for her kids. I enjoy buying books for my grandchildren, but they read so much, that I always need to check to be sure they haven’t already read something before I buy it. I also love your interest in Hawaii. It will be interesting to see where your reading journey takes you.

I had already added the Greenwood series to my list based upon your earlier review of the first in the series. I’ll get to it eventually.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:22pm

75. And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi.
This book is what is called "true crime", so I don't really know whether it is properly called Fiction or Non-Fiction. It was written by the author of the book Helter Skelter, and considering the life he tells of in this book, it is amazing that he has time to write. He is one of these high-powered attorneys who litigate famous cases, and he clearly loves the notoriety. He makes it obvious that he also loves wooing and winning the jury, most especially in his summations, which he says average six hours (!). This book is the story of a famous double murder, which took place on a deserted Pacific atoll named Palmyra.

We are presented with two couples, who each want to sail alone to Palmyra and live there for an undetermined time, off the grid, and off the land. For some reason Palmyra has gotten a reputation for ill-luck and foreboding, but neither couple knows this. It is amazing how many people happen by this extremely remote atoll and land for a while during the period in 1974 that brackets the time of the crime--if there was a crime. There is no definite proof that a crime has occurred. Two people are missing, and many years later the skeleton of one of them is found deposited on the shore of the lagoon, in very suspicious circumstances. No cause of death can be determined. At the time when the couple, the Grahams, went missing, the only other people we know to be on the island with them are another couple going by the alias "the Allens". The Grahams were upper-middle-class, and the Allens consisted of one ex-convict of violent crimes, and his middle-class girlfriend, who is not privy to all of his past. The Allens have a boat which sails, but is leaking heavily, and too small to stock the appropriate amount of food staples. They are eventually living on fish and coconuts. It becomes monotonous. The Grahams have a beautiful yacht, with fairly luxurious fittings and equipment, in perfect condition. They also have lots of food.

The "Allens" are discovered back in Hawaii, after repainting and re-registering the Grahams' boat under a different name. They do not appear to have made any attempt to report the deaths of the Grahams, and their explanation for why they were not sailing their own boat are unconvincing and contradictory. They are arrested by the FBI and Coast Guard for theft of the boat that belonged to the Grahams. Both are convicted, and serve time.

The book is occasioned by the finding of Muff Graham's body eight years later, now only bones. They are found near a metal box, which appears to be too small for the body to fit, unless it were dismembered. The author accomplishes splitting the murder trials for Muff so that the ex-convict and his girlfriend are tried separately. His pride is evident when she is found Not Guilty, after the trial in which her boyfriend is found Guilty.

Much of the latter part of the book is an account of the research and court trial of the girlfriend, by the name of Jennifer Jenkins. We are never given an explanation for the different name, and her original name is available in a Wikipedia article. It ends with the summation, the verdict, the celebration afterwards, and a very brief story of Jennifer's life afterwards.

I don't know how similar this is to the real-life story, the trial transcript, and the author's role. I suppose I enjoyed this; I was riveted in the middle part. Still, if I had never read this I would not be the poorer, and in a way it was like wading through unpleasant ... matter. The ex-convict did not come off well, and both his attorney and he wrote counter-reports. Neither of those did as well as this book. I should mention that there were parts of the book where this attorney's writing showed less talent for writing than litigating. He especially leans on the foreboding associated with this island, but we have only his word for this. His prefigurement is especially heavy-handed, using a technique I associate with novice writers (or bad writers). This is not a quotation, but an example of this kind of thing. "They were not to know the horror that awaited them on the lush, green island."

I did get some of the flavor of Hawaii, I think, although he is not a native.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:23pm

76. Kaiulani; The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White A novel for older children, in the guise of a diary written by the last Princess of Hawaii, Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn. This clearly portrays the role of this child, the designated heir of the last Queen of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani, who ruled from 1891 to 1893. According to this book, the monarchy was wrested from the control of the Royal Family of Hawaii, which had been in continuous control for 1500 Years. The Hawaiian Islands were annexed by the United States, against the wishes of many Hawaiians. Native Hawaiians also lost suffrage, because the constitution adopted against Queen Liliuokalani's will allowed the vote only to land-owners, and most of the land belonged to Americans. That was possible because Hawaiians did not have a concept of ownership of land and resources, and thus took no steps to protect the land from the ownership and control of Americans and Europeans who came with and after the Christian missionaries of the 1800's.

The Princess was sent to England for boarding School, and she was there when the Monarchy was lost, as well as when the King died, just before the Reign of Liliuokalani. She did make one trip to the United States to agitate with the President for Hawaiian's rights, and brief visits to France, Scotland, and Ireland. The Princess herself died only a few years after the Queen, still quite young. Hawaiian Suffrage was partially regained during her lifetime.

I also watched a movie about her time in England, by name Princess Ka'iulani, which purported to be "based on a real story". In this love story, Kaiulani chose returning to her duties rather than marrying an Englishman of whom her father approved. The movie was not entirely believable; I doubt Kaiulani spent a great deal of time with a boyfriend, without chaperonage. Interesting enough, but not worth finding if the idea of it doesn't grab you.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:25pm

77. A Walk Through the Fire by Marcia Muller
This is 20th in a series of books about a private detective named Sharon McCone. It bore the feeling of being somewhat formulaic, although I did enjoy reading it. I would try one more of hers to see whether they are worth it; I couldn't tell from this one. I don't really have anything to say about this myself. I will give you the summary from Amazon, rather than give you nothing.
Sharon McCone, weary of San Francisco's persistent rainy weather, jumps at the chance to investigate sabotage on the set of a documentary film being shot on the island of Kauai. Based on the writings of Hawaiian scholar Elson Wellbright, the film has incited major controversy among some of Wellbright's family members who aren't anxious to see the project reach completion. Vandalism quickly escalates into big-time violence, and McCone discovers a world of family secrets, drug dealing, political insurgency, and murder in this new crime novel by one of the world's most beloved mystery writers.

78. Off the Grid by Robert McCaw This again is an entry in a series about a detective, in this case a police procedural. I found it pretty unbelievable, to tell you the truth. Not the deaths, which were gruesome but fit the story. Instead, it was the part where the police detective solves a plot regarding espionage from his youth, happening in Yugoslavia, and related to spying on the Chinese. It was not the plot so much as Koa Kane, the detective, being bold enough to take on the CIA and FBI and out-plot them. In any case, it was enjoyable to read, without impressing me at all. Once again, this series should bear reading one more of to see whether the rest are macho-unbelievable. Truth was, I liked the main characters a lot, but I've never liked stories about intrigue.

79. The Floating City by Pamela Ball. This is a novel of a different color. So good. This takes place in 1893, or thereabouts, when Queen Lili'uokalani was deposed, and American-Hawaiian businessmen took over the government by force and treachery. It is a story of the finding of a dead body by a woman who lives on the fringes of Hawaiian society, telling fortunes and engaging in petty theft. She is Norwegian, but sympathizes with the Hawaiian nationalists who mount an attempted coup to restore the monarchy. They are unsuccessful because the imperialists have usurped control of the US army and other armed forces. The body is someone who means something to the police, and, in case she is involved, this main character is hounded by the police and politicians, who believe she is more knowledgeable about the Royalists than she is. In truth, she knows almost nothing. Finally, she is arrested for the murder, just after she learns that she is being targeted because she can attest that the corpse she found was dead before the date on which he supposedly sold his land to an influential American. At last she is helped to leave the island, after signing a confession that she murdered the man, rather than finding him. This gives him a death date after the sale of the land, and she is no longer interesting to the police. She travels in the United States, looking for somewhere warm, and ends up in Southern California, telling fortunes, and seeing the ghost of the murdered man.

This was great, with clear explanations of the politics and the royalists' actions. The underclasses in and around Honolulu live vividly in this book. Highly recommended.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:27pm

80. Leaving Lavender Tides by Colleen Coble A short novel about a Christian couple taking a honeymoon in Hawaii. Of no particular interest, with no new particular information about Hawaii, and the Christianity consists of the couple occasionally reminding themselves, together or separately, that god will take care of them, so they don't have to worry. At one point, thought, one of them remembers that this doesn't mean that god will not allow them to come to worldly harm.

So, I started here the last week of May, and I have reached that 75 books goal that some people observe. What is the significance?

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:30pm

81. Burned by Carol Higgins Clark. I'd say this is the average-quality mystery, complete with a competent heroine, a complicated plot, some ridiculous characters, and Hawaii's beautiful scenery. Reagan Reilly is the private detective heroine. Due to a huge snowstorm in New York, her plans to visit her fiancé there must be derailed, and she chooses instead to go spend a weekend with her best friend in Hawaii. She knows that after her wedding there won't be many opportunities to do that. Just as she is traveling, though, the body of a newsletter-writer who works for the hotel she has booked washes up on a beach near the resort. She is wearing a shell lei which belonged to the Princess Kaiulani, a lei which has been missing for thirty years. The manager of the hotel thinks he and the hotel have been targeted by a saboteur who wreaks havoc there--food poisoning, overflowing toilets, and other mischief. He hires Regan to take a stab at solving both the murder and the sabotage in her weekend there. Naturally, she is successful, but gets herself and friends into considerable danger in the middle of it. There are some exciting scenes as she foils the work of the bad guys who are after her when she is rescuing some members of an usual tour group. Throughout, she must baby-sit her friend, who is evincing her usual bad taste in men, and the hotel manager, who is trying to organize a charity auction and save his hotel. The complicated set-up is a little tedious in the first part of the book, but does manage to get interesting later. In my mind there were too many simultaneous sub-plots. I'm not sorry I spent the time reading this, but it failed to rise above the crowd of similar mysteries/thrillers.

82. The Big Kahuna by Janet and Peter Evanovich. The Evanoviches are famed for the light-hearted quality of their several series. This series, known as the Fox and O'Hare series, is no exception. They've done a lot of these, considering especially the Stephanie Plum series, and they definitely know how to amuse. Still, I found the first part's patter and dialogue a little forced. I must say, though, that the quirky characters and non-stop action later made up for this. This book has the danger and thrills that the most exacting critic would anticipate, and I could easily see a movie of this. There are huge explosions, silicon valley millionaires, international industrial spying, an instagram model who constantly makes content with the camera in her phone, death-defying rock-climbing, fantastical feats of breaking and entering, and an international thief with a world-wide reputation. A kidnapping plot, Chinese governmental bad guys, and ziplines and parasailing over a burning vineyard are lagniappe. If you can make it through the first half, this one is worth it.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:32pm

Taking a break from Hawaii.
83. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had no idea that Frances Burnett wrote anything for adults. She is the author of the famous Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy, works which are far more charming than many people give them credit for. This is a Regency Romance, and I wonder about the timing vis-a-vis Georgette Heyer's similar work. They would both have been publishing around the same time, I think, in the 1920's and 1930's.

Anyway, I would read any amount of fiction like this. It is a little sharper than Geogette Heyer, in that some of the characters are not at all good-natured. This heroine, though, is chiefly distinguished by her good nature, and it is the thing that later makes her able to succeed. As the title suggests, she is proposed to by a Marquis at the end of the book, and he was already someone in whom she had quite an interest. She knew, however, that she didn't deserve such distinction, and befriended several young ladies whom she thought did. She was well-meaning enough to try to push their advantages, and this is part of what makes her so attractive to her prospective bridegroom. I can't help but like girls who are more than good bones and good clothes, although it is no one's fault that marriage for the more fortunate in England at this time, had chiefly to do with these, as well as the ability to allow husbands their own lives without taking time for their wives.

This is a short book, but I read it delightedly. More, please!

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:33pm

84. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths. The fourth of the Ruth Galloway series, this is as good as the others. This time Ruth is consulting on a case about a murder in a museum full of animals preserved by taxidermy. The originator, quite a collector, also collected lots of bones at places of Australian Native habitation and burial. They seem to have been collected indiscriminately, and are in cardboard boxes in a small room. Ruth is asked to discover if they are human, and most of them are. There are a group of people agitating for and demonstrating for repatriation of the bones to the people who still live in that region. Beliefs of the Native Australians are involved, in that the book explains that the ancestors do not enter "The Dreamtime" until they are buried to rest. Ruth is torn between her desire to have human bones from the past to study and her natural tendency to be sympathetic to the demonstrator's purpose. I am similarly torn, myself.

Also in play are tensions between DCI Nelson and his wife, who realized the connection between her husband and Kate, Ruth's child, and who interdicted any contact between them, bar professionally. Still, Nelson contracts a mysterious illness near the end of the book, and Michelle, Nelson's wife, comes to Ruth to ask her to visit Nelson in the hospital, in an attempt to call him back from his unconsciousness, or say goodbye to him before his death. At first Ruth demurs, worrying about contagion for Kate, but then she relents, and takes Kate to see her father. Kate has been calling every man "Dada" recently, but when she calls Nelson that, he believes that she means it specifically for him. Ruth does not disabuse him of the notion, she is so glad to see him wake. His illness turns out to be pulmonary aspergillosis, a real illness, which is sometimes contracted by breathing in the mold spores of Aspergillus. It is very dangerous, but is treatable. Nelson contracted it when he was present at the opening of a medieval-age casket.

I am continuing to be grateful to the ladies who introduced me to this series, which is first-rate.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:37pm

85. Plague and Fire: Battling Black Death and the 1900 burning of Honolulu's Chinatown by James C. Mohr The Subtitle of this book tells you all that you need to know about its subject, but doesn't tell you how much power is given to the subject by the inexorable weight of detail surrounding the event. Here is a review posted by another Librarything member, and I don't think I can better it. Please note that the first fatalities were near the end of 1899.

Shortly after the Annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii by a group of (mostly American) businessmen, bubonic plague broke out in Honolulu. President Dole and the Council of State unanimously gave the Board of Health emergency medical powers--and in fact, ceded absolute control over the entire Hawaiian archipelago to the Honolulu Board of Health for the duration of the plague crisis. Thus, three white American physicians were given absolute dictatorial authority over all off Hawaii. To my surprise, Dr. Nathaniel Emerson, Dr. Francis Day, and Dr. Clifford Wood did an excellent job during the four months of their absolute rule. They knew that plague was caused by bacteria (Yersin & Kitasato had identified it six years earlier), but not how the bacteria spread. Thus, they were reduced to doing what they could: twice-daily health inspections of all citizens, careful quarantines, disinfectant, fumigation, and controlled burning of buildings where people had caught plague, wide-spread immunization against plague. The islands were populated by Chinese, Japanese, American, European and native Hawaiian peoples, but racial tensions (though absolutely present) were kept to a minimum throughout the crisis. As of April 1900, plague cases were no longer reported in the Hawaiian islands.

What this doesn't tell you about is the intricacy of those racial tensions. The white doctors were long residents of Hawaii, and very sympathetic to the various races they treated. Two Chinese doctors, although Western-trained, were also involved in administration affairs. There were dozens of other doctors and volunteers of all the involved races, who helped with inspections, holding the quarantine, and then, when the controlled burning became uncontrolled burning, on a day with unexpected wind conditions, managed to evacuate the quarantined area without a single fatality and in a manner that the population recognized as humane and careful. The only injured were among the firefighters, who were notably brave and skillful. Can you imagine any such thing?

Of course the Chinese considered that the burning of most of Chinatown was a plot by the haoles (whites). Especially to those who did not speak English or Hawaiian, careful information was not available, and racial suspicion was already a part of life. There is no doubt that they were discriminated against, either. In this circumstance, however, the rich were generous, the doctors were careful. hard-working, and wise, the royalty gave up the palace grounds for the refugees, and the plague in Honolulu was eradicated with fewer than 100 deaths in all. This is all the more admirable in that the plague was endemic in most Asian ports, and Hawaii traded robustly with all of them.

This book was written by an Historian, and, of course, after reading a number of escapist novels, I found at first that this work of serious history was a little hard to get into. It needed a great deal of back-story to understand fully. But once I was involved in the story, it was so gripping that I kept reading it with one eye after I was too sleepy to keep them both open. The story ends as the doctors dissolve their power voluntarily, and cede their power back to the established government. Altogether worth the effort, and the photographs underlined the details of the story splendidly.
Highly recommended!

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:40pm

86. Stories of Hawaii by Jack London. My opinion of Jack London has risen considerably as a result of this work. It has to be one of the best things I've ever read.

Something I read recently mentioned that Jack London was accepted by Hawaiians as someone that truly understood the island and loved them, and along with Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain, as one of the writers who published the best stuff about them. A number of the stories in this book are well-known, but I had never read them. Rather than find those the cream of the crop, however, I fell for a story called Shin Bones; this story seemed to me to distill the pathos of the Hawaiian Royalty's status in modernity, and give an outsider a glimpse of its former mystery and its connection to Hawaiian folklore. Furthermore, my feelings during the story covered the map. I was amused by some parts, uplifted by some, creeped out by others. I felt both the effects of the downfall and the prior glory that appertained to the Hawaiian alii(royal family and high nobility). And all this in just 24 pages! I will always be grateful I experienced this. Most obviously I need to read more Jack London.

Oct 27, 2019, 12:53pm

Following your Hawaiian odyssey with interest. Great reviews.

Oct 27, 2019, 2:57pm

>146 sallypursell: I've not read Jack London other than White Fang, and that when I was a kid. This one sounds intriguing, though.

Oct 28, 2019, 12:04pm

>146 sallypursell: Well that's a surprise.

Oct 28, 2019, 7:29pm

>149 baswood: I don't know that my taste is a truly educated one. I have read widely, it is true, but my likes are not always the best literature, I don't think. I would be wary of being guided by me. I truly am grateful for your interest, though.

>147 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison! I'm really appreciative of your taking the time to comment.

>148 lisapeet: Not even Call of the Wild? Oh, give it a try, Lisa. I'd love to know your opinion. And thank you so much for your interest.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:41pm

87. Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg. I didn't have very high hopes for this, since it is a novelization based on the TV series. It was better than I expected. The back flap tells us that Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar award nominee. Apparently the shtick is that Mr. Monk, who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is a fabulous detective when not treated, but only a regular schmo when he is. He follows his Archie Goodwin-type to Hawaii on vacation (she's going to a wedding), and he does not want to do without her. He solves numerous mysteries with Sherlock Holmes-type observation skill of almost supernatural ability. He stops the wedding (the guy is already married), and happens onto a murder at his hotel. He solves that, too, and in the process runs afoul of a psychic trying to use him for fame. The guy has bugged the hotel to use his findings in his stage show, which is taped there. Only Mr. Monk figures this out, of course. Althogether, the little habits of Mr. Monk are sometimes annoying, and I don't think his life is very much like that of a typical Obsessive-Compulsive, although the bones are correct. Not too bad, it was readable, and occasionally chuckle-worthy.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:42pm

88. Steppin' on a Rainbow by Kinky Friedman. Kinky Friedman is a National Treasure. He lives a double life as the author and his own literary creation, a PI who has never failed to solve a case. This detective is, coincidentally, also named Kinky Friedman. Using his own unique methods, and unorthodox side-kicks, he goes to Hawaii to locate a missing friend. His method is mostly to drink little parasol drinks on his lanai, follow what occurs to him, and take his friends with him everywhere. Thank goodness one of his friends is a centimillionaire.

Each of his friends has a set of exaggerated behaviors that he or she indulges in at every opportunity. Nevertheless, it is easy to see why he prizes each of these friends; they are each fully true to themselves. Since they can be trusted always to be themselves and to tell it as they see it, they are perfect foils for Kinky. He also knows someone everywhere.

His friend persists in being missing, and clues are bare on the beaches and in Honolulu. Discovering that his friend is a dead ringer for a dead alii of previous generations, and noticing that some priceless remnants of Hawaii containing some noble Hawaiians' bones are also missing, Kinky reasons that his friend must be in the most inaccessible place on the Islands, where he must be revered as the alii he so resembles. He believes someone has replaced the bones of the Hawaiian nobles in their famous secret hiding place, which must also be in the most inaccessible place on Hawaii. Reasoning thus, he asks his wealthy friend to finance an expedition to the place he elects.

They go by helicopter, then get out and make camp, complete with two little dogs which belong to one of the friends, and are monstrously ill-behaved. They then climb up the valley to a famous waterfall, with great difficulty, due to the difficulty of the terrain. The folklore story relating to this waterfall inclines Kinky to think it must be the spot. When the friends finally make it to this lonely and silent place, one of the little dogs goes missing. Looking for him, Kinky finds a lava tube under the foot of the falls which is big enough to hold the little furball, and they have looked everywhere else, so Kinky swims into it, and then rides with the current until he ends in a cavern. Eventually all the friends follow him (what an act of faith!) and in this cavern they eventually find the missing friend, held as a cherished captive by natives who are crazy for the Hawaiian monarchy and high nobles. Needless to say, this also turns out to be the legendary site where the bones and cultural artifacts of the monarchy have been secreted.The friend survives witnessing the Hawaiian version of The Wild Hunt, and then leaving with Kinky, et al., they leave the bones behind, unanimously, without even discussing it. Yet another impossible case solved by Kinky Friedman, the great detective!

This was fun, and surprisingly allusive to literature, but then Kinky Friedman usually is. (The comment about the Wild Hunt is mine, though.) Kinky and his Irregulars are all intelligent, and seldom do stupid things, other than drink too much sometimes. The solution to the missing person and things case doesn't seem to me as inevitable as Kinky thought it, but I'm on board. I wasn't there, and I am not a great, intuitive detective.

I had forgotten how much I like this author, how funny and insightful he is. Of its type, this is perfect. I recommend Kinky Friedman, but not necessarily this book.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:44pm

89. Still reading for Christmas giving. Asimov's Mutants edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Greenburgh, and Charles Waugh. This is a compilation of short stories by many Names in Science Fiction. It's not a very sophisticated view of mutancy, more in the nature of the X-men type of mutants. Since that is what is so popular now, it serves.

The stories are by Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, John Brunner, Alan Nourse, and Zenna Henderson, as well as some names I cannot place right away. Those were George Byrum, Edmond Hamilton, Ann MacKenzie, Idris Seabright, David H. Keller, M. D., and Mack Reynolds.

Some story protagonists age differently, some require special help as children, some are altered to live in different environments. One is about a horse who changes horse-racing, one about a child born with wings. There are children with extra-sensory perceptions. The book ends with a story in which a boy fails to save someone from death because he no longer uses the power he used in earlier childhood. He has ceased to believe in it.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but none really blew me away. Still, to someone who is just starting science fiction, I think it would have a lot of impact.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:46pm

90. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. Finally, a romance that was worth reading! I had mentioned earlier how much I hate the Big Misunderstanding that forms the Problem in many romances. They are usually unbelievable or contrived. Unusually, this romance has a Big Misunderstanding that is believable and comes out of the characters' personalities.

Olive and Ethan were the Best Man and Maid of Honor at a wedding. At the reception the entire wedding party and attendees are sickened by a food toxin, which made sense in context and seemed only a little contrived. The bride and groom beg the only unaffected people, Olive and Ethan (for separate reasons they didn't eat from the buffet, also believably) to go on their honeymoon for them, because it is non-refundable, and cannot be transferred to another date. It is a package trip to Hawaii, complete with resort stay, food, and tours and activities already covered. Ethan and Olive do not get along; they eventually agree to go, assuming that they will be able to avoid each other.

Inevitably, they end up spending a lot of time together, during which they begin to learn about each other. Slowly they start to enjoy each other's company, and finally learn that the Big Misunderstanding was just that. They had each jumped to a conclusion, one they are able to give up, and that removes the last barrier to their becoming friends. In close proximity they become friends, and finally, lovers. They plan to remain so, but a new Misunderstanding develops, again one that is totally believable. They break up, and both are miserable. Of course there is a Happy Ever After resolution of the misunderstanding, and, in an epilogue we learn that Ethan and Olive may end up married themselves; they are engaged at the end of the book.

There were plenty of funny events, and the dialogue was good. I liked both Ethan and Olive. It often happens that I like only one of the couple in a romance, and that can meant that the romance is unbelievable. In this case I didn't have to try to overlook some ugly behavior by one character. Their careers showed them clearly to be compatible in their interests. The growing attraction is developed quite slowly, considering the amount of time covered in the book, and the lust made sense when it happened. Altogether, this was fun and sweet. It was worth reading.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:48pm

91 Paradise News by David Lodge. We are told on the back flap that this author has been shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize. The only comment I can make about this is that it was a much better book than I expected, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Bernard Walsh is a non-believing theologian, formerly a priest (Catholic rather than Episcopalian, I think). He takes his father on a visit to see his father's sister in Hawaii because she is terminally ill, and they have not been in contact for many years. She had been estranged from the family and had left the church for many years. Now, dying, she wants to see her brother Jack. Their only other brother, Sean, died in World War II.

Bernard begins this journey out of a sense of duty, but his exposure to new family duties, such as helping his aunt with her financial affairs, and his exposure to the possibilities of life and love in these glorious isles opens him, causing a late blooming in him, an honest man. Disconcerting revelations about his family's relations and past shake his core assumptions.

It is a woman, a therapist, who fosters the most change in him. She learns that he has had no success with carnal relations, and uses her training to slow him down and promote a gratifying experience. He achieves an adult relationship with a woman for the first time, and this finishes his maturation. The experience with his aunt is also gratifying, and he achieves independence in her apartment while she is in the hospital. He drives himself around, makes the necessary financial arrangements for his aunt, grocery shops, and meets with his aunt's doctor over her care. This gives him all the experiences he needs to manage life in the future. He leaves Hawaii much richer than when he arrived, and his father has learned and expanded himself as well. Bernard's aunt and father are both the better for their meeting and reconciliation.


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Nov 4, 2019, 2:28pm

>155 sallypursell: I have the three books in the David Lodge trilogy on my bookshelves. I have not read any of them yet but I am encouraged by your review.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:49pm

92. Hawaii: 1776-1976 by Hawaiian Bicentenial Commision This is really a big picture book. I did read all the text, but the text is not very important. The pictures were wonderful: evocative and sometimes sad. I cannot but be aware that the Hawaiian people are largely doomed by the advent of the Haole, and then, the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos in large numbers. My favorite picture is on page 56. It is a young Chinese-Hawaiian teen with hair down to her hips, and lots of it. She wears a sarong around her waist and a lei, and nothing more. One full breast and nipple are half-covered by her hair: the other is completely covered. Her face is serene and a little reserved. I think she was going about her day, thinking her own thoughts when the photographer stopped her for long enough to get a picture. I don't know if the lei is a prop or part of her daily wear. She is barefoot, and very pretty.

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93. Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs. This is one of the novels in the Dr. Temperance Brennan series, and therefore related to the television show Bones. I actually watched one of those once, and found it not too annoying. The plot of this novel is so complicated that I eventually gave up understanding it--it was not that I couldn't, I just didn't want to work at it that hard. The surface was good enough to read until the end. I can't say I was blown away by the quality of this, but it was readable. I think a less complicated story would still have been interesting. By the way, this takes place in Hawaii, because that is where the bodies of dead service-men are identified, and all the files of the cases, plus evidence, are kept here.

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94. Under the Knife by Tess Gerritson. This is what they call romantic suspense, I think. It takes place in Honolulu. The main character, a woman anesthesiologist, is in the middle of a case, when the most disastrous happens. The patient is a co-worker, and everything goes wrong: the patient dies. Kate does not think she did anything wrong, and is stunned when she is shown by the patient's EKG that she had had a heart attack. Frankly, that shouldn't have made any difference, but Kate is accused of missing it, and thus of doing substandard work. She is fired, and believes that her career is likely to be over, because she will not be able to avoid telling people that she was fired for malpractice. Meanwhile, she meets the lawyer for the opposition, a man whose 7 year-old son died of medical malpractice, and who has a grudge against arrogant doctors. She can't explain how the patient's EKG was so different from what she remembers of it.

Honestly, this is a pot-boiler, and probably not worth anyone's time, unless they are confirmed Tess Gerritson fans. Then you know what you are getting. For myself, the doctor and the lawyer don't think like the professionals we are told they are. She doesn't consider what drugs might have been substituted in the vials she used--she doesn't ask for a toxicology screen to find out what was given. The lawyer finds his professional ethics awfully come-and-go. He takes Kate home with him when he believes she is in danger. They have no chaperone, and spend the night together in the house. Nothing happens, but only because he remembers his duty at the last minute. She is awfully passive for a professional woman who believes she is in danger of murder. She expects strangers to believe her story with no evidence, and no explanation for how the EKG was in the chart, but was not what she remembered. The police are hard to convince about the murders she believes she has uncovered. The lawyer and the doctor seem like unlikely allies, but we are asked to believe that they are overcome by lust and then by love, set in motion over only a few days. It was the characters changing, well, character, every once in a while that left me cold. They seem to be cold, and then blow up very quickly. There are several hairs-breadth escapes, and eventually, passion. I read the whole book, but only to find out what happened, and because I always finish books. This was not worth starting unless you are the aforementioned fan.

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Nov 5, 2019, 6:13pm

Always finishing books is a bit of a curse. I suffer from the same problem.
I am one of those who finds Dr Temperance Brennan just too annoying.

Nov 5, 2019, 8:19pm

>160 baswood: I can certainly feel for you. It was a hairs-breadth judgement for me. She was only just bearable for me. Thanks for reading, and for your comments.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:54pm

95. I am about to read several Hawaii histories, and I'd like to keep track of the major events. I hope no one objects to my doing it here. I am starting a book called Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands by Gavan Daws

Item 1.

When white people came to the Hawaiian Islands, they found that the Native Hawaiians had an oral history, like many tribes who did not write. A Romantic might take them literally, and assume that the first settlers arrived in the seventh century C.E. Skeptics might accept a date about 200 years later. It is certain that they came from somewhere in Micronesia, and therefore completed the greatest single feat of Navigation that has ever been known. They were leaving for the freedom to worship as they preferred, since a new and savage god had become the fashion in their homeland. They were looking for legendary lands for which they had chanted sailing directions. They knew it was a challenging sail, and that they were looking for small islands in a vast sea. It seems that their sailing directions were perfect, for they found the Hawaiian Islands just where they expected them, and just in time, for the large group of people in the small fleet of outrigger canoes made landfall when they had run out of the food and water they had brought for the voyage. There is limited space on an outrigger already full of people. Hawaii proved to be there for the taking, and full of food ready to harvest in the ways they were accustomed to harvest, and to eat. A second wave of immigration seems to have come from the Tahiti area, and comparing the several oral histories of the Tahiti area and Hawaii suggests a date between 1000 and 1200 C.E.

Item 2.

Europe learned of the existence of the Hawaiian Islands when they were "discovered" on January 18, 1778, by Captain James Cook, the famous explorer. They made landfall on the island of Kauai to find fresh water to resupply the ships. When they left to take up the question of the Northwest Passage, the ostensible goal of his voyage, Captain Cook named the Hawaiian archipelago "The Sandwich Islands" after his patron at the admiralty.

After unsuccessful searches for the Northwest Passage, Captain Cook decided to overwinter in the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii). Unfortunately, a cutter was stolen by some of the natives, and in trying to get it back, the use of armaments caused ill feeling from the natives. Eventually Captain Cook was killed, on February 13, of 1779. The natives proved not to be timid around firearms as the natives in the Society Islands had been, and several were killed in the skirmish that caused Captain Cook's death. The good relations with the natives seemed gone.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:54pm

96. Death in the Orchid Garden by Ann Ripley
This is one of a series of "Gardening Mysteries" featuring a woman who is co-host of a gardening TV show. The show has moved to Hawaii to do a show under the auspices of a botanical research institute there, interviewing three visiting scientists on the edge of botanical research, but who have some signal disagreements with each other as to etiquette, invasive species, and the use of imported plants for commercial profit. Of course, someone begins to murder some of the controversial scientists. Our protagonist, Louise Eldridge, finds the first body and provides CPR; she is present at the second death, a hideous death by lava stream, and saves her co-worker, who is trying to save the victim at great risk and cost to himself. Louise is one of those fortunate or unfortunate souls who happens upon murders more than is statistically likely. She has an analytical brain, and has "solved" each murder by careful observation and thought.

I found this a little heavy-going, having to pick it up by firm intention rather than with pleasure each time I had paused in my reading. I really don't know why, but it may be because there were not many likable characters for most of the book. When Louise is first narrowing down the field of the possible murderers, she begins to look at everyone with suspicion, and during that period her feelings about everyone change slowly. I think that is what I was disliking about the other characters. A number of them are successfully redeemed in the final events of the book. Still, I didn't really like it a lot. I am seldom lukewarm about books, and to me, this did not make the grade to "really good".
Oh, well. Not all books are really good.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 10:59pm

95. More Shoal of Time.

Item 3.

This section certainly had more detail than I needed. I can see that the events of this period are well known and understood as well as it is possible to do from this remove. The event which assumes the most importance next is the conquest by warfare or diplomacy of all the Hawaiian Islands under one main chief, or "King" as he is now called. 1802 is the year when it was accomplished. This man was Kamehameha I, a shrewd warrior and negotiator. After his conquest he bent his energies to barter with the Europeans, who began to arrive in the islands in ever-increasing numbers, primarily brought by the resupply needs of ships in the Pacific Ocean. Whether coming from Europe, Asia, or the Americas, ships pausing as Hawaii needed meat, fruits and vegetables, fresh water, and salt. These were all easily available in Hawaii. White men begin to arrive at Hawaii and stay.

Item 4.

King Kamehameha I died naturally, and was succeeded by his son, Hilohilo, now Kamehameha II. During his reign, which he shared with an executive officer, Kaahumanu (King Kamehameha I's favorite wife), the "kapu system" failed. For kapu read "taboo", which is the transliteration which first made it to English. Kapu was a complex system of something related to "anathema" in English. In other words, some things were set apart from their fellows by their sanctity and relation to the gods, such as the body of the King. In an example of this, any commoner who touched the King was killed on the spot, and ordered as a sacrifice. Similarly, women were not allowed to eat the "sacred meats", those being pork and shark meat. Other things were found to be kapu by reason of a prohibition against them because they were profane. A King might level a kapu temporarily, on a harbor or a ship, for instance, and until this period kapus were rigorously maintained. By slow degrees, people had begun to ignore the kapu between men and women eating together, and other, smaller, kapus. In 1819, in the first year of his reign, Kamehameha II explicitly ended the kapu system, which was the basis for the Hawaiian religion. The stage was set for the arrival of Christian missionaries.

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97. The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. Since I am a quilter, I have heard about this series of books before, and I read one some years ago. The reason I didn't read any more is that they are readable, but not much better. They are full of cliched phrases. I call this the "steaming syndrome", because there is no cup of coffee that is not described as "steaming" and there are many similar adjectives which are permanently stuck to nouns. This protagonist frequently smooths her fabric with her hand, and plain white muslin is always described as "creamy". Other than this, people's behavior is often simplistic, and everyone is very likable or very disagreeable. There are no plain ordinary folk who don't matter to the main characters, no DMV clerks; grocery cashiers; traffic cops; no homeless people.

In this novel one of the Elm Creek Quilters travels to Hawaii to avoid her husband and acquaintances when her husband has left her for another woman, and she is waiting for her no-fault divorce to go through. She is helping her college roommate to start a quilting retreat that takes place in the small inn she owns. She discovers something shocking about her old friend, which severs their relationship for a brief time, but she decides she must learn to forgive her friend. At the end of the novel her divorce has been finalized, she has a boyfriend, and she has bought into a partnership in the Inn and the Quilting Retreat. Now she has something to look forward to, and the prospect of living half the year on the mainland, and half the year in Hawaii.

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Nov 15, 2019, 1:39pm

I have Shoal of Time and was all set to read it, but then we got back from Hawaii and somehow my motivation faded. So, I guess I’m still looking forward to it, so to speak. I’ll try to follow your commentary.

Intrigued by your Hawaii focus. My favorite book on Hawaii was a literary anthology, titled Island Fire. What I really liked about it was the variety of voices - Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Pilipino, Haole, mixed, etc. If it were easy to find good literature authored by all these various backgrounds, I might have pursued it further, but I found some highly recommended books weren’t actually very good and got a little discouraged.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:01pm

98 You Can Run but You Can't Hide by Duane "Dog" Chapman. Unless you have some inexplicable interest in Dog Chapman, I don't really recommend this. I had never heard of this gentleman, although I understand there was a reality show about him. I think this book must be largely ghost-written. A co-writer is listed, and the Dog thanks her for making it readable.

To tell you the truth, after reading this I wondered if Mr. Chapman was severely mentally ill. He sees visions, hears voices, has conversations with people who are invisible to the others present, and is certainly grandiose. He is very conceited and truly thinks god communicates with him, that the visions are angels, and that his life is god-driven. It seems very odd, considering the family life and legal history he recounts in this book. I will say this for him, he was completely rehabilitated by prison in youth, thanks to god, I think, and is serious about his faith and his family. Even if his family life is a train-wreck. He is devoted to his current wife (I think she is his fifth) and reveres her. He obviously treats her as an equal in the business, and relies on her skills.

The book is about his life, his past, his family, and his work. He does work hard, and uses his adult son(s) in his business. He says he insists there be no reenactment in the show, just honest film of real events. He seems to take on the negative stuff to explain as readily as the positive stuff. He seems to think everyone is interested in him, and that he is the most effective bounty hunter that ever was or is.

I read it the way you can't look away from a serious accident. The discomfort of sharing his life for a while was real, but, thank goodness, it left as soon as I finished it. With a little shudder, I was very happy to have come to the end.

Oh, and by the way, The Dog lives in Hawaii, which is the reason I read it. I didn't know what I was getting into.

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Nov 15, 2019, 9:10pm

>166 dchaikin: Dan, I am finding it hard to go on in Shoal of Time, because the next important event, the arrival of the Congregational missionaries, begins the tragic story of the loss of the fascinating Hawaiian culture. It is a little on the dry side, but that seldom bothers me. I've been through enough of the history of Hawaii now to be sure of the basics, and so far I don't see any differences from the Hawaii of Michener. Of course, it was obvious all along that the history of the downfall of the Hawaiian monarchy and the annexation by the United States was more controversial and conflicted than Michener implied, may I ask if that is the substance of the dislike by Hawaiians of his book?

By the way, I haven't been able to get Unfamiliar Fishes in book form, and I don't seem able to listen to the audiobook. I will have to try again. By the way, one of my brothers also brought up Unfamiliar Fishes as a recommendation. He said that it wasn't everyone's cup of tea as you implied as well. I know that wasn't the import of you comment, just what I inferred. Did I misunderstand too badly?

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:02pm

99. After that last book, I need to take another break on Hawaii. I need something to enjoy.
Beyond the Grave by C. J. Archer. This is the next entry in the series on The Ministry of Curiosities, about a necromancer who is helping a Bureau regarding the occult, in an earlier, alternate, Britain. I think the series is getting bettter, and the relationship between the two protagonists is warming up as well.

In this book, a relative of the Committee that oversees The Ministry is missing, and the acting Head of the committee is asked to locate him. The protagonists have occasion to use their occult talents and knowledge to do so, and ultimately find him in Bedlam, The Bethlehem Hospital Royal Hospital being the main hospital to treat the mentally insane in London. Of course, it is also used to sometimes secure the merely inconvenient. In the process of the rescue, Charlie, the female protagonist, has to reanimate two corpses. In any case, this was sufficiently engaging to distract and amuse, the burgeoning romance served to spice up the plot, and the writing has improved from the earlier books. As I said before, writing occult fiction is obviously Archer's bent.

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Nov 15, 2019, 9:56pm

>168 sallypursell: I think the complaint against Michener is mainly he’s a White guy giving a white perspective. Not that he blesses the missionaries and their essentially criminal children, but that he doesn’t tell it the way a native Hawaiian might like it told. Haven’t read this book by him, but I’ve read him enough to know that he always tells things the way he wants them told, so he leaves himself up for criticism.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:06pm

100. Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood. This is the third book in the Corinna Chapman mysteries, about an adipose baker in Melbourne Australia. She has had a complicated past, and finds her current wholesome life and profession entirely to her taste. Thank goodness she lives in an apartment building with fine people and fine animals. Insula, the apartment building, was made with a Roman theme, with the apartments each named after a Roman God, Goddess, or character who was important in their myths. After an unhappy first marriage and divorce, she now has a wonderful lover who works as a private detective. Unfortunately, she seems to be a magnet for difficult people or ill-wishing, which often seem to result in someone's death or a crime.

In this adventure, Corinna deals with a strange cult who have asked her to make some unappetizing and only somewhat nutritious bread. In addition, her hippie mother shows up at her door reporting that Corinna's hippie father is missing. Corinna has been estranged from her parents since she was five years old, when her grandmother took her to live with her because her parents were neglecting Corinna, and unrealistic about their future (not to mention the past and the present). Some hippies turn out gormless; it's a fair cop. I myself identify as a hippie, but I like suburban comforts and advantages for myself and my children.

Corinna looks for her father, and meanwhile two of her young employees are nearly poisoned by a weight-loss tea that is making the area dangerous, her ex-addict assistant baker gets bronchitis and needs some nursing, and a new club opens in the neighborhood. It is named after Vlad Tepes. Corinna and Daniel feel they must check it out, in case it is as insalubrious as its name. Corinna and Daniel also go on the Soup Run as volunteers, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked needy of Melbourne. They encounter some of the Holy of the city, too, in the form of a Catholic nun who is devoted to the care of the poor and disadvantaged, and various volunteers and lay workers, do-gooders who are serious about it.

For some reason, there were a great many cultural and literary references in this one. I enjoyed them tremendously. Some of my favorites made the scene; Georgette Heyer; Lord Percy Blakeney; Babylon Five characters; some Australian authors I needed to look up; and an unnameable horror from Lovecraft, not to mention Marcus Aurelius, A Tale of Two Cities, and They Might Be Giants. Characters of this book discuss books and characters, make great food, have parties and get-togethers, love each other, and solve all the mysteries. They even reunite Corinna's parents. We learn more about the virtues and problems of the people who live in Insula, including the baker, a witch, computer nerds, a confectioner, a weaver/textile artist, a gardener, an ex-professor, and a dominatrix/leather worker. There is also a large Greek family who run a cafe on the ground floor, and they really know food. There is a pair of international traders who are lovers and flat-mates. There is also a very well-dressed lady of means who has retired there, and is a piece of fine protoplasm, both in terms of kindness and attractiveness.

I think it's obvious that I adored this book, and I can't wait to read more in this series.

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Nov 16, 2019, 10:08am

Enjoyed your review. (Pondering “adipose baker” and whether that’s just a typo or a real thing.)

Nov 17, 2019, 3:48am

>172 dchaikin: Entirely real, I assure you!

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:07pm

101. Mark Twain's Letters From Hawaii edited by A. Grove Day

On March 18, 1866 Mark Twain arrived in Hawaii on the steamer Ajax. He had never yet published any novels, and he was in the earlier portion of his art in Literature. He was, as usual in this early period, paying for his travels and adventures by writing for newspapers. In this adventure, he was writing letters about the exotic Sandwich Islands for the Sacramento Union, which is described in the introduction, as "the most powerful and popular newspaper on the West Coast" . He was gathering material for his first important book The Innocents Abroad, and he was using his famous alias "Mark Twain", as he had only recently begun doing. After this he had enough to say to engender his important career of popular lecturer, to be something like David Attenborough is to us.

To gather his material Samuel Langhorne Clemens rode a poorly performing horse around the island of Oahu, and then took a brief voyage to the nearby island of Maui. There he climbed Haleakala, to see some famous scenery. He also sailed to the Kona coast. There he climbed to the active summit of the volcano Kilauea and stayed overnight to observe the activity at night and during the day. Weirdly enough, there was quite a good hotel near the top, where travelers were able to stay in (relative) safety. I don't know how many people realized the serious danger in staying so near the caldera of an erupting volcano. These people walked near flowing streams of lava to appreciate them. Those were probably 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

After this, he visited sugar plantations in Hamakua, and caught the steamer back to Honolulu, his home base.

The first section, the descriptive one did not particularly interest me, because there was no humor in it, and I was already somewhat familiar with the islands, due to all my reading. Nevertheless, this section is quite famous for being, in part, "a prose poem" to the islands, and the phrase, "the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean".He became a lifelong enthusiast, and planned, ever after, to move to Hawaii to live whenever he could. As late as 1884 he began to write a novel with a Hawaiian setting.

In April, 1889 he gave an address, in which he charmed his hearers with stories about the curious things he saw in Hawaii, and ended with the following, the aforementioned Prose Poem.

No alien land in all the world has any deep strong charm for me but that one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done. Other things leave me, but it abides, other things change, but it remains the same. For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud wrack; I can feel the spirit of its woodland solitudes, I can hear the plash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago."

Let me say only this more: don't miss the sections on the conduct of the legislature, which are hilarious; the careful consideration of the business of whaling; or the description of his impression of the size of the volcanic caldera, which is wise and true. He also wrote about the robust future of the commerce of Hawaii and the West coast of California, highly prophetic words. There is a deeply felt section on the death of the heir presumptive to the throne of Hawaii, a girl who had the love of all the people. The section on sugar farming and on the refining of cane sugar was highly detailed and fascinating.

Near the end is a section of miscellany. He covers his discovery of the royal bone crypt in the one of the palis (High vertical cliffs, very sheer); the unselfish behavior of the Hawaiians, when hospitality and generosity are called for; the "greenest, freshest, and most beautiful" trees, he "had ever seen"; some areas of such beauty that he felt they "lacked only the fairies" to be fairyland, and several more items also worth noting. This book would be quite sufficient in and of itself to orient one to the Sandwich Islands of the 1860's. It is highly recommended, and not just by me.

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Nov 21, 2019, 4:56pm

>174 sallypursell: Enjoyed your excellent review of Mark Twain's letters from Hawaii

Nov 21, 2019, 8:23pm

>175 baswood: Thanks, Barry!

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:09pm

102. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich This novel had nothing to do with Hawaii, although it showed up in the library's catalog under the subject. Stephanie Plum, the main character of this story arc, had recently been in Hawaii, and experienced some relationship troubles there, but they were explained quickly, with only the due emphasis.

Stephanie, and her side-kick Lula, the ex-'ho', are always amusing to read about, and her love life is complicated. Very complicated. As it turns out, the rivalry between Ranger and Joe Morelli came to a head during the aforementioned trip to Hawaii, and there was a fist fight. That doesn't seem to have deterred their interest in Stephanie, nor their amusement/frustration about her. In this novel both of them seduce Stephanie, even though she has "sworn off sex" for the nonce, after the problems she had in Hawaii.

As always, since Stephanie is a bounty hunter, there are background stories of her work and Lula's exploits. Lula's wardrobe is usually mentioned, because it features lots of spandex, glitter and sequins, and it is composed of bright, remarkable colors combinations. Since Lula is on the generously-fleshed side, this is a show every day. The pair is a trouble-magnet, with explosions, gun-play, murderers intent on Stephanie's life, and the adventures of Rex, Stephanie's guinea pig, as comic relief. Even better comic relief is supplied by Stephanie's Grandma Mazur, who carries a .45 long-barrel in her purse, and whose hobby is visiting funeral parlors during viewings.

As usual, numerous people show up in Stephanie's apartment despite the dead-bolt locks, alarm system, and both lovers watching over her. She manages to get Ranger's car high-jacked three times by the same bail jumper--thank goodness Ranger keeps a location tracer on the undercarriage. Eventually he gives Stephanie a watch with one included, because even keeping watch over the location of the car doesn't keep Stephanie's whereabouts known.

Other notable events: Stephanie's arch-nemesis Joyce Barnhardt shows up as a bail jumper in Stephanie's caseload; the bounty hunter team of Stephanie and Lula is outsmarted three times by a woman with the improbably name of Lahonka Goudge; two men posing as FBI make multiple attempts to collect a photo from Stephanie, one that she doesn't have, but they don't believe it; the man who did have the photograph turns up murdered and stuffed in a trash-can at LAX, where Stephanie had a layover on her flight home from Hawaii; gossip says that Joyce Barnhardt was in her car at the junkyard when the car was compacted--only one of her shoes survived; Stephanie gets Ranger to help her break in to Joyce Barnhardt's house, where he seduces her in a closet. She comes out of the closet "missing some critical pieces of clothing, but feeling much more relaxed"; Lula drinks a "love potion" and falls for one of their bond skips; Stephanie discovers that Joyce Barnhardt is not dead when Joyce breaks into Stephanie's apartment and won't leave; Lula takes a rocket launcher to an office to apply some pressure and sets the attached warehouse on fire; and lots more.

These are never great books, but they are loads of fun, and quick to read.

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Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:10pm

I've taken the last few days mostly to bake for Thanksgiving. I made five pies, one cheesecake, and one layer cake, plus lots of fillings and frostings and garnishes. One of the pies was vegan. It took me two and a half days. Not much reading done.

103. The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai by John Tayman.
This was a careful story, very thoroughly researched, about the real events in the creation, in January of 1866, of the exile community at Molokai. This is, of course, the place where the Hawaiian community of Honolulu sent those suffering from Hansen's Disease, which you may know as Leprosy. The book covers the complete history of the colony, through its incipience and its growth to its final end. At its peak, there were more than 1,000 people in this unusual society. After effective treatment, and then cure, of the disease was discovered, the colony then experienced senescence and dissolution.

The book was arranged chronologically, and the head of each chapter was followed by the number of the residents living in Molokai, which was very helpful and evocative. It gave me a feel for the place that allowed the rest to coalesce into a picture.

The work begins as the Hawaii Department of Health decides that something must be done to isolate the sufferers to prevent the wild transmission that they expected, based on the medical literature. It gave everyone a feeling of dread to think of the seemingly random occurrence of leprosy, and to recognize with horror the first signs in people that they knew, or their families, or themselves. Many people seemed to know about others sooner than those knew about themselves, the signs are at first so faint. And although the wisdom was that Leprosy was highly contagious, no one seemed to stop interacting with those they knew to be early sufferers. With that said, it was sometimes with the refusal of their hands to be shaken that some sufferers began to consider that the minor changes in their skin color (or tone, or thickness) might be this dreaded disease. With that realization, some sufferers ran away to remote mountain valleys, some killed themselves, some avoided diagnosis, and some sought it.

Hansen's disease is a chronic infectious disease, caused by a specific germ, all of which was unknown at the time of this story. It is also one of the least contagious of the communicable diseases, similar to tuberculosis, which is due to a related microbe to that which causes Leprosy, Mycobacterium tuberculosis vs. Mycobacterium leprae The true, low rate of transmission was not known. Also unknown was that very few people are susceptible. Something like 95% of people are immune. The remaining five percent seem to be genetically unfortunate; the fact that it was members of families who succumb to the disease implied, falsely, that normal contact with others was the mode of transmission, and, falsely, that it must be very contagious.

In reality, for a person to become infected with leprosy, a number of uncommon circumstances have to exist, beginning with the combination of susceptibility and intimate contact with a person who was in a stage of leprosy that is contagious, called lepromatous leprosy. Transmission is then by the airborne method, with a microbe expelled by the infectious person during a cough or sneeze, and then brought into contact with the susceptible person's nose or mouth, and thus carried into the body. Simple hand-washing reduces the rate of transmission greatly, since it is usually the hands transferring the germ to the nose or mouth.

Once in the new body, an incubation period of three to seven years, but occasionally as long as 30 years, occurs. This makes the details of transmission extremely hard to pin down. The occurrence of the disease often appears to be a random strike from fate.

Once incubation is over, leprosy attacks skin and nerves. The germ multiplies most rapidly at about 93 degrees. This means that the largest numbers of microbes occur in the coolest areas of the body, the ear-lobes, eyes, and nasal passages, as well as the skin of the shoulders, cheeks, arms and legs. When the nerves are attacked, it is often the nerves in joints, overlying bone, and therefore near the cooler surface of the skin. This includes the knees, elbows, ankles and wrists. A typical immune system, and thus in four out of five cases, will blunt the attacks, and the sufferer might develop a lesser form of the disease, known as "tuberculoid leprosy". This form of the disease never progresses to lethal stages, and, most importantly, people with this kind of leprosy are not capable of transmitting leprosy to another person. A person with tuberculoid leprosy might have some evanescent skin blemishes, with areas of lightened or darkened skin that are smooth and dry to the touch, and do not sweat or grow hair. They may be small as a coin or as large as ten inches. These areas are insensitive to temperature, pressure, or to pain.

A worse condition sometimes develops in which leprosy hides inside the nerves, which then become inflamed, and swell. This manages to kill the nerve, because the swelling cuts off the blood supply to the nerve, and that area becomes both completely devoid of sensation and non-functional, because both sensation and movement are all controlled by those nerves. At first a small area, and then progressively, larger associated areas are paralyzed and insensitive. At times this includes an entire arm or leg, and even part of the torso. Eventually the battle is won by the immune system, and the disease is finished with its rapaciousness. The damage done, however, is permanent.

In one out of five cases the immune system never mounts any kind of effective response, and a form of leprosy occurs which is called "lepromatous leprosy". This is the worst form, and is what most of us think of when we think of the term "leper". It begins with the development of trillions of bacteria in the unresisting body, which we are told would be fatal for most people with bacterial diseases, but in which case this host may not even feel ill. Small blemishes appear on the forehead, nostrils or ears, remain sensitive, and are noticeably raised. With time, the lesions enlarge, increase in number, and become hardened and ulcerous. They may not lose their sensitivity until very late. Eventually, they may merge, after creeping along the jaw or brow, and the sufferer may become unrecognizable. The germs never retreat into the nerves, and there is no swelling, because there is no immune battle going on; the immune system has given up at the start. Therefore, sensation and movement will not be lost for a long time. In time the hands and feet swell hugely, and the ear-lobes and lips can distend until they touch the shoulders or chest. Billions of bacilli line the nasal passages, which may collapse the nose and block the airway, and breathing may only be possible through a tracheotomy (a surgical opening in the throat, as an alternate route for breathing). Germs infiltrate the eyes and eye-lids, causing the blink reflex to be lost, leaving the eyes to be constantly leaking tears. Some sufferers become blind. It is from lepromatous leprosy that death occurs, but frequently by some cause other than leprosy, like pneumonia.

After forming the policy to isolate those who suffered from Leprosy, the Board of Health had begun making an institutional plan to move the sufferers to Molokai, an uninviting peninsula on the island of Molokai. It was arid, and desolate, but importantly to the Board, it would not be easy to escape from. There were cliffs on one side of the planned colony, and fifty-three miles of difficult ocean on the other. Only the very able-bodied could ascend the small path to the cliffs. Even the coast was hard to approach, and in any significant weather it was almost impossible for ships to near the land. When exiles were delivered to Molokai, they were sometimes rowed to shore by a small boat, and sometimes just dropped off the side of the larger ferry, to make shore, or to drown, as they were able.

The board had a plan to cover the costs of the colony using the farming of the inmates to feed themselves. Of course they neglected to tell this to the inmates, who were ill, and expected to be fed, and were bitter at being exiled to a place with little food, very little housing, and no place to supply lumber, meat, and other food.

I'm going to have to continue this tomorrow. It is late, and both my husband and myself are longing for bed. To be continued ....

(Edited for clarity. Please be aware that I have used phrases from the book , without attribution, in the explanation of Hansen's disease. It is never more than a few words together, and it is mixed with my words. That made it really awkward to cite, or even to put into quotation marks.)

Edited for sequence number.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:11pm

103. The Colony continued

The "town" of Molokai began with 13 sick colonists and one stowaway child who were left at Molokai with limited food and water, and no housing to speak of. They were expected to build huts from native plants and start to plant vegetables, fruits, and taro to make poi. Some animals for breeding were delivered, but were immediately butchered by the inmates for meat, since they received so little. Instead of eventually becoming self-sustaining, as they were expected to do, they continued to be a drain on the public purse, and they continued to complain and advocate for better supplies and conditions. Over time the board would announce Supervisors of the colony, which fared as well as they might, with highly unsuitable people as administrators. They fared well when the administrator was good, and ill when a supervisor was a drunken man intending self-gratification.

The population increased, as more and more sufferers were delivered. By 1872, the population had doubled, but the patients at Molokai still lived in ramshackle huts with dirt floors, and the poor living conditions killed more than leprosy's effects. There was no source of water but nearby streams and ponds. There was one government store, but not much to buy in it. There were no permanent medical people, and no pastoral offices, no religious services except when a traveling minister came on a visit. Pneumonia and fungal diseases were rampant. Children, who had been delivered sans parents, were taken in by some, but their living conditions and education were catch-as-catch-can. Sometimes rapacious gangs would run the colony; sometimes a resident supervisor who would maintain order only with difficulty, and often, with violence. Women were often treated as chattel, even married women with their husbands, who might be kidnapped and multiply raped. Leprosy attacks men many more times as often as women, so the "supply" of women for the colonists was too low. Girls and young women were particularly at risk, with protectors haphazard and often rapacious themselves.

In 1873 a chapel was built, and later in the year Father Damien de Veuster arrived. He was newly ordained, rather dogmatic and stubborn, and convinced of the evils of Calvinism, the predominant Christian sect on the islands, since they had sent their missionaries first, in 1820. Later commentators would say that he was crude, and loud, and too sure of his own importance. But no one disputes that he was devoted to the patients of the colony. He built huts for those who could not build their own. He gave carpentry lessons. He started a boys' home, and then a girls' home. He agitated to have nuns sent to help with their housing and education, a campaign which was later successful. He gave the medical care that was needed, which was mostly basic nursing care, and well within his competence. He tolerated the hideous smells that leprous tissues sometimes developed. He gave the last sacraments. He made coffins and dug graves. He buried the dead, and prayed with the bereaved, no matter the sect. In short, he was a never-resting source of almost all that the colony needed.

Damien also tried getting more help by applying to the government with constant pleas for more of what the colony needed, like lumber to build floors to raise sleeping and dying patients out of the mud, and to make houses that were proof against the sometimes driving rains. He asked for nurses to do wound care, but expected them to be nuns, of course, or monks, since he did not expect women to be able to tolerate the dressing changes of some of the hideous and exceedingly painful lesions that needed frequent dressing changes. He asked for more meat and farming implements.

Eventually, Damien's pleas bore fruit. Providence also seemed to take a hand, as a trained (male) nurse arrived as a patient, with his somewhat-trained wife, and a twenty-two year-old son. This man, William Williamson, was not only a mason, but also had been in nurses' training at the time of his diagnosis, and he was placed in charge of the hospital and the medicines. The hospital had only lately been built, and was merely a bigger shack. But with Williamson and Damien in charge, it improved, and continued to do so. By this time there were almost 800 sufferers in Molokai, and nearly all began to look upon Damien as a Father for all of them, no matter their beliefs. His services overflowed the chapel. A few words from him could calm an incipient riot. Since he met all the new-comers on Boat days, and then visited every resident once a week at least, he was known to all, and respected or loved by most.

Father Damien realized that he was himself a leprosy patient sometime in 1878, but did not acknowledge it to anyone. He died during the morning of April 15, 1889. A deathbed photo shows that his hands were huge and very deteriorated. He is the most famous figure to have lived at Molokai. He was also canonized by the Catholic Church in October of 2009.

With Father Damien, the book shifts from the history of the colony, to the history of the colony as seen through certain figures who lived there. The subjects were chosen because there was a great deal of documentary evidence about their stories, and several were alive to be interviewed. There are occasional parts of the story interspersed, which explain the medical advances regarding Hansen's Disease, and the actions of the Board of Health of Hawaii regarding the maintenance of the colony and the treatment of the residents.

In the spring of 2003 there were twenty-eight permanent residents of Molokai, their average age seventy-six. They were those who had been exiled in their childhood, and knew no other place as home. Some had come as adults, but lived nowhere else for over fifty years; it was home. Some could not bear to leave their oldest friends; some simply felt they belonged there. The government of Hawaii supported them, living simple, independent lives. Many other patients with Hansen's disease were treated in their home communities, since the inpatient phase of their treatment lasted only a few weeks; after that they were no longer contagious, even to the few that would be susceptible.

The book concludes in the late story of one of the people who guided us through his own story. It was a very effective way for us to feel the story, rather than being outside observers. The book told me horrors at times, but always enthralled me. Once I got to the individual stories I read nothing else while I was reading it. This was worth the care it was to write, and very much worth the care it took to read carefully.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:12pm

104. Honolulu by Alan Brennert This is a roman à clef, with multiple historical people glancing in and out of the story. We see W. Somerset Maugham, the writer; Liliu'okalani, the last Queen of Hawaii; the man who inspired the "Charlie Chan" stories, a man who carried only a whip to arm himself, and who was known for arresting as many as 40 men at a time, unassisted, Chang Apana; May Thompson, the person who inspired the "Sadie Thompson" story by Maugham; the seamstress who invented the Aloha Shirt; and Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympian, who won Olympic medals for swimming in the Olympics of 1912, 1920, and 1924, both Gold and Silver, and who popularized surfing.

The story begins in Korea, with four young women who have all agreed to be "picture brides" for Korean men in Hawaii, from agreeing, training, going, arriving, to and then living in the Islands.

After running away from an abusive husband, one of the brides re-establishes herself in the "red light" district of Honolulu as a seamstress. She meets some very colorful characters there, and leaves after a riot and during a famous public "clean up" campaign. She later has good fortune, getting a divorce, finding a fiancé, marrying, and then finding great success as a seamstress. The last Queen of Hawaii dies. A great crisis occurs in the city, when several ethnic boys are accused of the rape of a white woman. The Turn of the Century occurs, from the 19th to the 20th. All of the original women age, and invest money in a cooperative. The Group lends money for starting or development of a small business to the members of the group.

The seamstress is the focus of much of the story, and it is a big, generous, novel. At the end, when she is in her sixties, Jin the seamstress becomes an American Citizen, and she is proud. Jin was named "Regret" by her parents, but she lived with the name Jin, "Gem" for most of her life. So many things happen in this novel, and in so many settings, that you would think it was a sprawling one, but it isn't. Instead, it is tight and restrained. Recommended.

Edited for sequence number.

Edited: Dec 2, 2019, 11:13pm

I'm gettting behind! I'm having a fibromyalgia flare, and I have been doing nothing but reading the last few days, as well as playing Minecraft.

105. The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman.
This is a book in which an army nurse is stationed in Hawaii, and happens to be on duty when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurs. There are some romantic side-stories, and stories in which the starring nurse-protagonist, who is an anaesthetist, falls a-foul of hospital or physician tolerance for the behavior of nurses. There are stories of nurse solidarity. The important side-story regards the theory that the American military and government knew about the Pearl Harbor attack and allowed it because it was a way to lever the United States into the World War.

This was an average novel, interesting while it was going on, and hanging together on most levels, but ultimately not worth going out of your way to find.

Edited for sequence number.

Dec 2, 2019, 11:14pm

I think I have the numbers straight now. Thank you for your patience.

Dec 4, 2019, 7:13pm

Wow Sally! lots to read about The Colony: The Harrowing true story of the exiles of Molokai. There are some great pictures on the internet of Father Damien and the leper colony

Dec 5, 2019, 12:03am

>183 baswood: Barry, was it too much? I thought it was best to tell people about leprosy, because most people don't know anything about the details. And the book was detailed, and really good.

Dec 5, 2019, 2:27am

106. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
In this book, a man undergoes the worst traumas that he ever will suffer.

His wife, while racing in a speed boat, has a head injury, and is in a coma, and not expected to live. She dies late in the book. At the same time, the main beneficiaries of the family fortune, particularly a large area of land which had belonged to their Hawaiian forebears (members of the high nobility in Hawaii), are pressuring him to sell this land for cash for them all, and since he is the majority stock-holder, his decision will be binding on all the others. He learns that his wife was having an affair, and was in love with the other gentleman. This explains some of the oddity in her behavior in the last few weeks, but he cannot accept that she was serious about it. He decides that he needs to see and speak to the man about it, and determine his nature and intentions. His two daughters each have a crisis; the teen daughter has been failing to get along with her mother, and the younger daughter has begun bullying members of her class at school.

By the end of the week, his troubles are beginning to be handled; his wife dies, he daughters begin to act like parts of a family again, and his relationship with them is improving. He makes the decision about the sale of the land and is satisfied with it. He meets the man having the affair with his wife, and learns that this man had no intention of leaving his family, and loves his wife. He meets the wife and the two boys in this other family, and is satisfied with the family, in that he sees it is in great condition, and the man is very happy with this family, and not likely to leave them to stay with his own wife.

This book considers the import and consequences of inherited wealth, especially in land. It turns on the feelings and behavior of married couples and children in families. The atmosphere and customs of living in Hawaii seem very well described, and the family, although they appear Caucasion, are dedicated to the traditions that they follow, because they know that they are high-ranked Hawaiians. A good book, but not a great one. Despite the constant battering of the circumstances, and the grief, confusion, and anger of the protagonist it was enjoyable to read.

Dec 5, 2019, 12:56pm

107. Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane. This was the story of a town nearly leveled by an EF5 tornado, and all kinds of lovely things happened just after the storm, complete with babies being born, which is the ultimate event as far as women are concerned. Only weddings are even in the running.

This was not a good book. It was not assisted by frequent invocations of Jesus on the part of the characters. One character kept picking up scraps of fabric she found in the ruins of the town, and eventually a quilt was made from the pieces. Although I have an emotional bond to quilting, this didn't help either.

Unless you are fond of sappy inspirational Christian books, don't bother.

Dec 5, 2019, 2:16pm

108. Southern Discomfort by Margaret Maron
Thank god for good books. This is the second in the Deborah Knott mystery series. She is now a judge, and an interesting thread in the story covers her installation (that can't be the right word), her investiture (also wrong), whatever. Continuing, what her first days on the bench are like. But the real story concerns her volunteer work building a house for a member of the deserving poor with a group of women. Part of the point is that women can build a house without the help of any men, and they are doing it for another woman and her children. I didn't know how many steps in house-building must be approved by an inspector.

The inspector introduces another theme: Deborah has beloved nieces, and the niece and her friends are now old enough to get themselves into trouble. One is dating a man they discover is married, and who acts like a slime-ball of a husband. Late one evening, Deborah's niece is working late in the volunteer house, doing some final wiring work, when the inspector comes by. He happens to be the slime-ball in question. He is intent on an inspection of the "rough-in" of the wiring, but when he sees the niece there, he decides he prefers her to his work, and as she is alone, he makes an attempt at a rape. The niece, Annie Sue, is discovered by Deborah, unconscious in the house, with effects of a blow to the head, and with her clothes disarranged, her pants down around her ankles. Of course it is assumed that she was raped, and Deborah takes her to the hospital for a rape kit and treatment of possible STD's. At the hospital they find other members of Annie Sue's family, as her father is there, being treated for a heart attack. The rapist is found dead in the house that is a-building, obviously killed by blows to the head by a carpenter's hammer that is found in the house. In the unlighted house Deborah had failed to notice his body. Two recent deaths begin to look suspicious when Arsenic is found as a complicating factor to the heart attack in Deborah's brother, who is Annie Sue's father, of course.

This started to look like the sort of thing that happens in poorer books--the coincidence of the rape, the murder, and the heart attack at the same time, but the Arsenic means something else is going on. The father of one of Annie Sue's posse of friends is a recent death; he is exhumed, and Arsenic is found in his body. Deborah begins to look into it in her usual way. She visits people, listens to gossip, takes people home, volunteers in the community, and goes to work and tries to be a really good judge. As things move on, we discover that Annie Sue was not raped; apparently the murder prevented the rape. That's the only good news, though.

Annie's friend Cindy tells no one that the potential rapist was her first sexual experience in the week before. Annie's friend Paige asks Deborah for a ride home one evening after working on the house, and asks Deborah some questions about murder and manslaughter. Eventually she blurts that she is the one who killed the attempted rapist; she discovered him in the attempt and picked up a near-by hammer to hit him. It turns out she was also the poisoner. Her father had been molesting her for years, and she misunderstood some things Annie Sue had said about her own father. She was trying to relieve Annie Sue of the problem of a father who was raping her. The building inspector also turns up with some Arsenic in him, because Paige was trying to remove him from the world after he has lied to Cindy and taken her virginity. Cindy is the third member of the tight-knit best-friend girl posse of Annie Sue, Paige, and Cindy.

I enjoy watching Deborah work in all her capacities: judge, aunt, and informal detective. In this book I also enjoyed the paragraphs under the beginning of each chapter. In this case they detail the building of a house, with terminology and procedure clearly described.

Although I don't have the instant connection with Deborah that I do with Kerry Greenwood's baker, Corinna Chapman, nevertheless I like Deborah Knott, and I will read more.

Dec 5, 2019, 3:11pm

109. I recently found a list of science fiction and fantasy books that were out of print, and shouldn't be forgotten. I determined to try to find some, because I want to encounter forgotten gems, and I love science fiction and fantasy.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley was right up my alley. I read it avidly and I couldn't make myself slow down to savor it. This is fantasy, because it occurs in an alternate world. Our heroine comes from alternate England to a land we might consider alternate Saudi Arabia. She has come to a lonely army outpost to live with extended family due to the death of her own family. In this alternate England young ladies do not set themselves up to live alone, and in any case, there are no funds.

The army are there to maintain an uneasy detente between the "hill-folk", an Arabian group who live in the mountains and foothills, and the occupying force of alternate-English, who rule this land the way England did India for so long.

The leader, a King, of the hill-folk comes to the alternate-English governor of the region, to suggest an alliance to defend the land from hostile tribes just to the north: alternate Iraqis(?). This tribe has maintained enmity with the hill-folk for generations, and now sees an opportunity to eradicate a much-reduced population of hill-folk, using a pincer attack between the hill-folk and the alternate-English. The alternate-English governor declines to get involved; the King of the hill-folk, Corlath, sees the young lady, frowns, and turns away. He then decides that he must kidnap her for a reason we are not given.

What follows is a classic hero tale, with fantasy elements. Harry is the nick-name of our young lady, and in captivity Harry becomes a heroine straight out of legend. It seems her great-great-grandmother was from Damar, from the hill-folk, and she possesses a type of magic, called kelar.

Much of the story concerns her training. She learns to ride without tack except a thin saddle. She learns to wield a sword. She learns the language of the hill-folk. She wins a trial of arms against other novices of the tribes. With time she is admitted to the King's guard, and as they go to take on the Northerners Harry leaves the King behind as she has a vision of an alternate field of war where a small pass comes through the hills to the west. She is afraid that she has burned her bridges with the King, but she is completely sure that this pass must be guarded.

As sure as that she is the Hero, she pulls it all off. Instead of the doom they expect, the hill-folk win. The western pass proves to be crucial to the victory, and Harry has mustered kelar to secure the win. In the end Harry agrees to marry Corlath.

It was so satisfying. And the heroine married the King. Perfect.

Dec 5, 2019, 3:16pm

Time to get back to Hawaii, although I am almost finished. What is left are two audiobooks and four histories. I have made a little progress with one audio-book, listening when I am trying to fall asleep, in the dark, in bed, with my husband sleeping beside me. It keeps me awake, but I can concentrate that way.

The histories need to be compared for best remarks. A list will be the next post, and I will get back to Shoal of Time in the meantime.

Edited: Jan 1, 2020, 12:19am

Oh, I forgot. I have made a list of all that I have read since I joined, in late May. That helped me keep my numbers straight. Here is that list:

19 What I read this year:

1. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick
2. The Handfasters by Helen Susan Swift
3. The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
4. Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

5. Wizards and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber
6. Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor
7. Marrow by Robert Reed
8. Bryant & May: Wild Chamber by Christopher
9. All Systems Red; the Murderbot Diaries by
Martha Wells
10. The Wise Man's Fear: Day Two by Patrick
11. Artificial Condition, another Murderbot story
by Martha Wells
12. The House of God by Samuel Shem
13. The Family that Couldn't Sleep by D. T.
14. The Bartered Brides by Mercedes Lackey
15. The Life and Times of Mousefoot,
Entrepeneur, by Amalia Pursell
16. Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
17. A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor
18. The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz
19. The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
20. Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
21. The Charmer, an Assassins Guild Novel by C. J. Archer
22. A Little Scandal by Patricia Cabot
23. A Primate's Memoir; A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Time Among the
Baboons by Robert M. Sapolsky
24. Shadowland (The Mediator #1)by Meg Cabot
25. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
26. Enter the Saint by Leslie Charteris
27. The Currents of Space by Isaac Asimov
28. Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith
29. Forgotten and Remembered; the Duke's Late Wife (Love's Second Chance
series) by Bree Wolf.
30. The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks
31. The Viscount's Tempting Minx
32. The Earl's Defiant Wallflower
33. The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress
34. The Major's Faux Fiance
35. The Brigadier's Runaway Bride
36. The Pirate's Tempting Stowaway
37. The Duke's Accidental Wife
38. A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
39. Where Roses Grow Wild by Patricia Cabot
40. The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
41. Hawaii by James Michener
42. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
43. The Mediator: Ninth Key by Meg Cabot
44. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
45. Her Majesty's Necromancer by C. J. Archer
46. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
47, 48, and 49. Three books in the Reluctant Brides collection. Individual titles unknown.
50. The Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron
51. Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
52. Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood
53. Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
54. Podkayne of Mars by Robert A Heinlein
55. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
56. Mercy Thompson; Homecoming by Patricia Briggs
57. Mercy Thompson; Hopcross Jilly by Patricia Briggs
58. World War Z by Max Brooks
59. Critique of Criminal Reason by Michael Gregorio
60. The Best of James H. Schmitz by James H. Schmitz
61. Origins Reconsidered by Richard E. Leakey
62 Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
63. Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley
64. The Unhappy Medium: A Supernatural Comedy by T. J. Brown
65. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
66. Archangel's Prophecy by Nalini Singh
67. Archangel's War by Nalini Singh
68. The Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
69. Diary of a 6th-grade Ninja by Marcus Emerson.
70. The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths
71. The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
72. A Local Habitation by Seanen McGuire
73. Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood.
74. Fluke, Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore
75. And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi.
76. Kaiulani; The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White
77. A Walk Through the Fire by Marcia Muller
78. Off the Grid by Robert McCaw
79. The Floating City by Pamela Ball
80. Leaving Lavender Tides by Colleen Coble
81. Burned by Carol Higgins Clark
82. The Big Kahuna by Janet and Peter Evanovich
83. The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett
84. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
85. Plague and Fire: Battling Black Death and the 1900 burning of Honolulu's Chinatown
by James C. Mohr
86. Stories of Hawaii by Jack London
87. Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg
88. Steppin' on a Rainbow by Kinky Friedman
89. Asimov's Mutants edited by Isaac Asimov
90. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren.
91 Paradise News by David Lodge.
92. Hawaii: 1776-1976 by Hawaiian Bicentenial Commision
93. Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs
94. Under the Knife by Tess Gerritson
95. Shoal of time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands by Gavan Daws
96. Death in the Orchid Garden by Ann Ripley
97. The Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
98 You Can Run but You Can't Hide by Duane "Dog" Chapman
99. Beyond the Grave by C. J. Archer
100. Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood
101. Mark Twain's Letters From Hawaii edited by A. Grove Day
102. Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
103. The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai by John Tayman.
104. Honolulu by Alan Brennert
105. The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman
106. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
107. Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane
108. Southern Discomfort by Margaret Maron
109. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
110. Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii by James L. Haley
111. Within the Sound of These Waves;
the story of the kings of Hawaii Island, containing a full account of the death of Captain Cook, together with the Hawaiian adventures of George Vancouver and sundry other mariners by William H. Chickering
112. Island World by Gary Y. Okihiro
113. The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
114. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
115. Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block
116. Cry Wolf: Alpha and Omega #1 by Patricia Briggs
117. Chalice by Robin McKinley
118. Rules of Prey by John Sandford
119. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
120. The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block
121. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
122. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
123 On the Prowl by Briggs, Wilks, Chance, and Sunny
124. The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by Lawrence Block
125. Shooting at Loons by Margaret Maron
126. The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis
127. Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Edited: Dec 9, 2019, 1:23am

95, Shoal of Time Gavan Daws
110. Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii by James L. Haley
111. Within the Sound of These Waves; the story of the kings of Hawaii Island, containing a full account of the death of Captain Cook, together with the Hawaiian adventures of George Vancouver and sundry other mariners by William H. Chickering
112. Island World by Gary Y. Okihiro

These are the histories I will be reading, all together. Let me first repeat the items I had listed in the "headline history" I was giving you from Shoal of Time:

1. A fantastic journey in the mid- to late- first Millenium brings some Polynesians from the region of Tahiti to inhabit the archipelago of Hawaii. This takes place somewhere between 650 C. E. and 1200 C. E.
2. Captain Cook is the first European to discover what he calls "The Sandwich Island". A year later, he is killed there also. The discovery is in 1778, and his death in the next year.
3. Kamehameha I unites the islands by subjugation through conquest, and one island through diplomacy.
4. Kamehameha's son inherits the throne, as Kamehameha II, and in his first year he ends the "kapu" system by sitting down to eat with women.

Edited: Dec 9, 2019, 1:30am

113. The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston. This is escapist fiction. It's sentimental, romantic, and harks back to the past.

A young woman named Xanthe Westlake was convicted of drug possession in England, and then was rescued by an appeal after serving some months in prison. She and her mother, Flora, have moved to a small town and opened an antiques shop. Both of their romantic partners have failed to support them, financially or emotionally, and in fact, the drugs belonged to Xanthe's boyfriend and she was convicted because she held the lease. The new shop seems to be coming together and they make some friends in the neighborhood. Xanthe and Flora make plans for a grand opening.

Xanthe has the gift of pschometry, learning some things about objects simply by handling them, but it isn't always for the better. This time she finds a silver chatelaine with two missing attachments. A spirit in the shop, it turns out, is a Mistress Merton, a woman who was killed for practising Catholicism when that was considered treason. She is worried about her daughter, who has been arrested for theft of the missing attachments to the chatelaine in a time without the benefits of modern criminal justice. The daughter is subject to at least transportation, and possibly hanging.

Xanthe goes back to the past by holding the chatelaine and stepping into the small blindhouse which functioned as the jail in the past. (Who knew it was so easy!) She saves the daughter, which gets rid of the ghost in the shop, and, with Xanthe now back in the present, the shop is having a satisfying opening day. Too bad Xanthe fell in love in the seventeenth century and now she has the task of figuring out how to make that work. Curtain.

I'll give a book one star if it makes sense and the grammar has no more than the typical errors, awful as they are. Three stars accrue to books that are a touch above average, so that I can enjoy reading them, even if it is only worth it in medias res. That makes this one a solid three stars. I wouldn't recommend it to any except those I know like just this kind of book.

Edited: Dec 9, 2019, 1:34am

111., Within the Sound of These Waves has a subtitle clearly describing it as about the kings of Hawaii, so I'll be starting with that one. Surely much of that topic will pre-date the events of the others.

And sure enough, this makes brief mention of the fantastic journey which seems to fascinate everyone who thinks of the history of Hawaii. Mr. Chickering, the author, says this happened in the 12th century. He then moves into a discussion of kapu and the Hawaiian religion, which he believes is not polytheistic. I can accept this in the way that I feel Hinduism is not polytheistic; it is instead a way of separating aspects of the godhead, so that different people can feel the relatedness to god that is necessary for true worship. In this case, he makes the case that the Hawaiian religion is instead a way of conceptualizing the flow of mana the divine energy from Man to God and then from God to Man as appropriate. Human sacrifice was a way to store up mana for the good of mankind afterwards, usually voluntary, or at least acknowledged as necessary, even in the case of opposing chiefs who were sacrificed after losing a battle. It was altruism, acccording to Mr. Chickering.

The first person to be king of all of the Island of Hawaii, where most of the population lived, was Liloa, about five hundred years ago, at a time when
Remember?--the King of England lost two sons to the murderous treachery of his brother; the King of France, in cloth cap, stalked the dirty corridors of his palace mumbling and chuckling while outside in the streets of Paris starvation trod the same gaunt measure; the emperor of China was wrapped in ultimate ceremony and the delicate exquisiteness of Ming.

Dec 11, 2019, 6:52pm

111. Within the Sound of These Waves made no distinction between legend and documented fact. I enjoyed it very much. I must say it made clear the dramatic personalities enjoyed by Kamehameha I and some others, and the behavior of the people around them. I never think the most important part of history is about governance and battles, but those seem to take over much of what is published. Personally, I like an ethnographic approach best--how did people live, what was a typical day like, how were the children educated, what did women and men do differently, and what the same?--which just goes to show that "history" is not my main focus, but rather anthropology.

This was not much like a modern history book, but was more in the nature of tales about historical personages. I expect there was a lot of truth in them, but it was hard to tell.

Dec 11, 2019, 7:11pm

114. This was the book that dchaikin recommended to me, Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, and I finally finished an audio-book, because that's was this was. I listened to it at night, with the lights off and my glasses off, so I wouldn't be distracted. I have trouble falling asleep, so I thought maybe I could slide into sleep while being read to. It didn't work. I stayed awake the whole time. However, I managed to pay attention, which was the main point.

This covers a great deal of the history of Hawaii, but seemed very episodic to me. I wonder, if I didn't already know the story, would I have followed it? (Which, I think, is just what dchaikin said about it.) It did what seemed to me to be a good job of making clear how the annexation of Hawaii, and eradication of the monarchy, were illegal acts. The majority of Hawaiians wanted the monarchy restored. None of that was a surprise to me. One would have to be very naive to believe that the people wanted their country to be stolen from them, and its resources ravished. It was simply the same story that colonialism tells us all over the world.

She also made clear to me the manifold beauties of the land and the people, all of which is easy to believe. I think I needed no convincing. For one thing, so many people who go to visit decide that they belong there for the rest of their lives.

Here's another problem from the interface, though. I can't think of anything to say about it, except what I already have said. Thanks for the recommendation, dchaikin. It is a worthy book, one that I still want to read.

By the way, there were some really great voices used for parenthetical material. The author read the book herself, and was really just okay. I guess this is how some artists make part of their money.

Dec 13, 2019, 4:43pm

>155 sallypursell:, >156 baswood: Hubby has been a big David Lodge fan, although I think he stopped after Deaf Sentence. I will send him over here.

>188 sallypursell: I don't read as much SF/F as I used to. I suppose these days it appeals less to me for some reason or another. We certainly have a house full of it. His, mine & ours.

Dec 18, 2019, 12:47pm

>155 sallypursell: >196 avaland:

I haven't read Deaf Sentence yet; intend to, but fear it might be a bit too on-point these days. Haven't read Paradise News either, though it's on the shelf. My favorite Lodge books are his humorous Campus Trilogy, set at the fictional University of Rummidge, and other academic locations including Euphoric State University in California. Changing Places, Small World, and Nice Work. Endowed chairs are pursued, texts are deconstructed, marriage vows are broken. My Small World review is on LT.

Lodge is nearly 85 and seems to have retired.

Dec 19, 2019, 6:03am

>197 dukedom_enough: Thanks for wandering by. I have put the Campus Trilogy in my TBR pile, and I am really looking forward to that. There are professors and adjunct professors in our nuclear family, although my brothers and nephews rather seem to incline to engineering more than academia.

I would have assumed that Mr. Lodge wrote because he was impelled to, so it surprises me that he may have retired. We have one novelist in the family, and she can't seem to help it, 'though her working routine was won by self-discipline.

I don't follow the trade publications, or the book reviews in literary magazines, so I had not heard of Lodge. I worked in public libraries for ten years in my early working life, but that must have been before the bulk of his career. I happened upon Paradise News sheerly by accident as I read all that my public library listed as being set in or being about Hawaii. I enjoyed it tremendously, so I had already planned to look for anything else that he wrote. His writing was so clean; there was nothing that seemed contrived, and nothing was overly dramatic, despite some potentially dramatic events.

Edited: Dec 19, 2019, 10:27am

>198 sallypursell: I would guess that Lodge is much better known in Britain than in the US: he and Malcolm Bradbury had the British market for campus novels sewed up between them for many years (it was a running joke that no-one could ever remember which of them had written which book).

Lodge seems to have been working on his autobiography lately, one part came out in 2015 and another in 2018, but that only takes him up to the early 1990s, so there might be a third part yet.

I enjoyed his 2011 novel about HG Wells, A man of parts, but I think his early novels are more fun.

PS — I’ve just realised that I never commented on your thread before, but I’ve been lurking here enjoying the craziness of your Hawaii project. It’s really interesting to see the odd things it throws up. I do something similar with bicycles (if something with bikes in it crosses my path, I read it), but I would never be single-minded enough to stick to it and spend a year reading only those books and nothing else.

Dec 21, 2019, 5:50pm

>199 thorold: Then, if you haven't read Cryptonomicon, you certainly need to do so.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Thorold. You will notice that I haven't managed to eschew books not on Hawaii altogether, and I'm about to start reporting on a week spent reading very little Hawaii. I am still chipping away on the history books, but I needed some real down-time this past week. I exhausted myself baking for Thanksgiving, and there was a little family crisis that could have been a big family crisis but for good fortune. Then I had a Godzilla party to attend (really!) and numerous family birthdays, all complicated by baking.

Thanks also for the information about David Lodge. I noticed A Man of Parts, and put it on my TBR lost. H.G.Wells knew many eminent people. Wasn't he one of Margaret Sanger's lovers in Europe, also? She had a thrilling group of them. I was the group leader for a pamphlet of hers at PGDP, the working arm of Project Gutenberg, and I therefore learned something of her life. It was a colorful one.
I can't approve of everything in her life, but she did much good.

Other than bicycles, what do you like to read about? I'll be looking for your reading list, if you have one.

Edited: Dec 21, 2019, 8:18pm

Duplicate post deleted.

Dec 21, 2019, 8:52pm

115. Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block. I'm a big fan of Lawrence Block, who writes varied works, all good. This is the first in his series about Bernie Rhodenbarr, a highly literate burglar.

I find him quite charming, and I have liked every book of this series that I have read. In this one, Bernie takes what seems like a simple job, breaking into a man's home when he is definitely absent, and taking a certain box from his desk, then handing over the box to the gentleman who hired him.

Everything goes wrong, of course. Bernie can't find the box, in the desk or elsewhere else in the apartment, and while he is looking, the police show up. Thank goodness Bernie is acquainted with the veteran officer, and he manages to bribe him successfully. All would be well, except for the rookie policeman, who happens upon the owner of the apartment in his bedroom, dead. He naturally assumes Bernie is guilty, and Bernie decamps quickly, knocking down his veteran policeman acquaintance, and successfully escaping. He goes to ground, and the only way he can get out of this is, of course, to solve the murder. He was clearly set up for the murder. For a change, I knew whodunnit before it was revealed, although I didn't get all the details sorted correctly. This was fun, and Bernie was already a pleasure to know.

Dec 21, 2019, 11:12pm

116. Cry Wolf: Alpha and Omega #1 by Patricia Briggs This is a companion series to the Mercedes Thompson series, involving a story for the Marrock's older son, Charles. In the process of being his father's enforcer, he visits a pack in Chicago, and finds the Alpha keeping a punitive and cruel system involving systematic torture or rape of submissive wolves. He also discovers that one "submissive" isn't one; she is instead a rare Omega wolf, and extremely valuable quality which keeps any pack more stable and more comfortable if the Omega is properly organized into the Pack. Not only is Charles shocked to find a Pack mistreating an Omega, but he is doubly shocked by feeling an undeniable attraction to her. They end up hanging out in the mountains together for some days, and then being involved together in a firefight with bad guys and bad wolves. She is useful, she is tempting, and she is shockingly worth her presence in the skirmish. He recognizes that his wolf (he is a werewolf) calls her his mate; he finds himself going along with the whole thing, and they marry and then go back to the Marrok to explain it all.

This was not as fun for me as the books that center around Mercy, but it was good to get some look at Charles' story, and some explanation of the "Mate" status that has been mentioned before. Now I have to look for the Prequel that is in a book of four of them, in a book called On the Prowl.

Dec 22, 2019, 6:25pm

I tried to listen to another audiobook, but it was so stupid it wasn't worth the trouble to change the discs. I could have read it in a couple of hours, but this went on being stupid hour after hour. It was Micro by Michael Crichton and Douglas Preston. I have found some Michael Crichton readable in the past, but this involved graduate students getting miniaturized, including the obligatory battle with ants, complete with fatal results for one of them. I wasn't reading this, so I found it easy to stop in the middle.

So instead, 117. Chalice by Robin McKinley. I''m on a Robin McKinley kick, while I'm reading my way through another Hawaiian History in bits, so I can appreciate it, and compare to the others. I really, really liked this. I am fond of anthropology, and also comparative religions, and I love fantasy that zeroes in on the ritual and religious/civil rites that buttress people's beliefs. This is about a woman who fills the spiritually-chosen office of The Chalice, apparently a woman who oversees and certifies civil rites which support the strength of her country. They are semi-religious. In other words, one can't explain them without a reference to some mystical way that these office-holders are chosen and in which they function. The Chalice must be there to certify that certain ceremonies and agreements are official and yet also approved of by the genii of the valley in which she lives. She is second in importance to the Master, but he cannot fill in for her; she has to be there for his work to be binding. That might be her function: that of binding. She also Heals, and makes policy decisions, but she also is not completely efficacious without the Master.

This novel is about a spiritual crisis in the Valley, when other members of the committee attempt to get rid of this particular Master, and with him, his Chalice. Of course, the Chalice prevails, by reason of being personally stubborn, and a little in love with the Master.

Both interesting in the anthropological sense, and persuasive in the fantasy sense. I loved it.

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 11:02pm

A Hawaiian report:
112. Island World by Gary Y. Okihiro This is catalogued as Hawaiian History, but I don't think that is an accurate description of it. It is not chronological, and speaks little about the governance and hegemony of the Hawaiian monarchy, the usurpation of the throne, and the annexation of the islands into the United States. There is no significant statement on the battles or military of the islands, although I will speak further of this.

I would call this a cultural history of the interaction between the Islands and the Mainlands, divided into some topical segments.

1. The first section begins with the general geography and deposition of the islands from a travelling "hot spot" on the ocean floor. This means a place where movement of the Tectonic Plate containing Hawaii has slowly moved across a gap in the ocean floor where lava is continuously expelled to cool and harden in the water, and build up island mountains ("Sea Mounts"). As the plate moves, the accretion of the new land moves as well, so that all the different islands are deposited in their turns.

2. Next is considered Oceania, and the Polynesian culture. Voyaging is a native pastime, and is frequently done. Various people landed on Hawaii for much of 200 years, starting somewhere around 300 CE. Polynesian navigation is described, and after wending our way to Hawaii, we consider surfing, as the ultimate Polynesian sport, at its apogee in Hawaii. Jack London learned to surf in Hawaii, and it became a fascination for mainland America, featured in magazines, advertisements, articles, and finally as it is featured in Hollywood movies. Women of various nationalities played Hawaiian women, and from these movies comes the movie trope of a woman throwing herself or being thrown into a volcano to appease Pele, the goddess of fire and vulcanism.

Other sections cover the Hawaiians who went to school in New England, and the New Englanders who came to Hawaii to do Missionary work or to teach; they cover the influence of Hawaiian music and the "slack key" style used in the Hawaiian steel guitar, and its influence on Country Music, Western Music, and Mexican Music; they cover the Hula, and its influence over mass media; business in Hawaii; and farming in Hawaii.

My favorite part concerned the Hawaiian diaspora, including the number of people of Hawaiian origin in sailing vessels and in various places and occupations. At one time there were so many Hawaiians working abroad, that they numbered fully 10% of the Hawaiians on earth. Hawaiians tried for gold in California. Surprising numbers of Hawaiians fought in the War of 1812, the Spanish and Indian Wars, the Civil War, and of course both of the World Wars, where one unit composed of Hawaiians got more medals for bravery than any other unit involved in the war.
In 1847 10% of the population of San Francisco were Hawaiian! In the mid Nineteenth century, Hawaiians made anywhere from 20% to 50% of the sailors in the whaling trade. The numbers of Hawaiians in the lumber trades and fisheries near Seattle were equally as amazing. This book seemed to be well-researched, and it was clearly explained, but I had a hard time keeping my interest up for some reason.

Dec 28, 2019, 6:14pm

118. Rules of Prey by John Sandford. This is the first novel in a series about Lucas Davenport, a police detective, and it would fit well into the police procedural sub-genre of mysteries. In this episode Davenport solves a small series of rapes and murders happening in the near environs of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. Although Davenport wins by proper procedure, he lapses into some illegal activities occasionally. He tries to frame the perpetrator at one time, and doesn't succeed, although this is the correct rapist/murderer. The perpetrator obviously fits the category of serial murderer, including escalating, a sobriquet, teasing the police, and wooing the press. He plays games with the detectives, identification of the killer the obvious prize of these games. The killer uses the same technique with every kill, also a characteristic of the serial murderer.

Modern novels of this type also play with the power of the detective. I was grateful not to have to witness the tired tropes of the intersection of the power of the local detectives and the FBI: the FBI are not called. In this one, though, the girlfriends and lovers of the detective meet, and decide how to parcel out his time, his life, and his near future. At first he is angry, but eventually laughs and agrees to the plan. I don't really see how he could resist meaningfully, although he could cut his losses and leave, I guess.

I don't know how accurate this is as a police procedural, since I don't know that much about police procedure. This may be the first one in the series, but it is already enjoyable to read, and I'll bet that they improve as the series matures.

Dec 28, 2019, 11:06pm

119. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. I originally bought this to give at Christmas, and it would have been quite suitable. In the long run, though, I simply had too many books to give, and no one who suited it.

This is like an allegorical fairytale. A witch rescues a baby who has been left for her, in the mistaken notion that it is necessary to appease the witch with the sacrifice of a baby once a year or something worse will happen. In reality, the witch is the heroine, rescuing these poor abandoned babies and finding families for them. There are plenty of families living near the witch who wish for babies and can't have them.

The witch accidentally feeds moonlight to one baby, and after that she can't seem to give her up. She names the baby Luna and takes her as her own daughter.

Almost thirteen years pass, and the witch knows that she will die just when Luna comes into her own power. Meanwhile, the baby's original mother searches for her. The governance of the village has changed, as well. All of these threads come to resolution at once, leaving Luna the star of her own story, giving her mother peace, and ending the infant sacrifice. Yay, a happy ending!

Dec 28, 2019, 11:21pm

120. The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block. This is book number two in the series regarding Bernard Rhodenbarr, the cat burglar.

Bernie's dentist makes a deal with him; he will arrange for Bernie to hit his ex-wife Chrystal for her jewelry, at a time when she won't be home. Bernie goes in two days early, gets himself locked in a closet, and becomes an unwilling auditory witness to the ex-wife's murder. He is then on the run for the rest of the book, trying to get out of the suspicion of the police for the murder, and of various other parties for various other things.

As usual, the light tone of the first-person narrative invites laughter, and we oblige. Lawrence Block is a great writer, and these are the books he writes for fun. They are fun, too. I love these, but the ones later in the series were better, I think, and Bernie becomes more likable after he buys a bookstore, pulling a job only rarely as he needs money, and taking with him an apprentice, a girl who truly admires the burglar for his skills and panache.

I like him too, especially in the later novels, which we have not yet reached. Reading through the early ones is hardly a chore, though, and I enjoy them.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 11:44pm

121. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley. This is just what it sounds like, a re-telling of the usual and familiar stories of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, including Maid Marian. I have always been a fan of this story, well, since I was nine or ten, anyway. That was when I began reading the Louis Rhead version of the Robin Hood stories, and I re-read them frequently. I learned a great deal about language, since the author inclined to antique language in his version. Maybe I should say that he affected antique language, but it was perfect for me.
"Now, my brave, young master," quoth Giles, "if thou thinkest to reach Nottingham town by nightfall, thou must e'en away. The path is easy enow to Repton, but poor and boggy at Sawley; from thence, see to it that thou leavest the Trent valley, and follow the upper woodlands. Then strike through the King's forest to the town."
It was inconsistent, but all the better; I learned it effortlessly, and never afterwards failed to conjugate and decline correctly as was shown to me.

This version is in modern English, and it has been novelized, by which I mean that the author has written it as a novel, rather than a series of tales. Naturally, I enjoyed it greatly. I was very grateful for the intercession of King Richard, who took the outlaws to the Holy Land to continue the third Crusade. I didn't have to suffer through the tragedy at the end of Louis Rhead's version, when Robin shoots a "cloth-yard shaft" out of the window of Kirkley nunnery, in order to select a burial site. He lies dying after having been bled excessively by his cousin, who seeks his death to please the sheriff. He asks that he be buried where the arrow falls, and Little John and Cecil carry out his last wish. That hurt me, but I knew that men die, and Robin Hood would not be an exception.

At the end of the McKinley version King Richard pardons the outlaws on the condition that they fight with him in the Holy Land, and removes the Sheriff, replacing him with Lady Marian, to be the Sheriff until Robin should return. This was nicer, but didn't have the punch of the Rhead version. From the introduction I assumed the death of Robin Hood was part of the story cycle that Louis Rhead was retelling, and that he had little choice about it. Robin McKinley does not explain why he made the choice he did when he re-wrote the tales. He does, however, include a post-script in which he explains what he has changed from history. He does not mention Robin's eventual fate.

Good, but this did not have the mesmeric feel of the stories in Louis Rhead's version.

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 11:45pm

122. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

This book was very fine. It is about a 13-year-old, whose mother has been getting chemotherapy throughout the book, and who dies in the hospital on the last page. However, her death, while necessary for the plot, is not the important event in this book. Instead, the book follows the adaptation in the son.

At 12:07 am a Monster solidifies out of the shadow of a large yew tree behind the house, and batters the back of the house, especially the window to the son's, Conor's room. This happens every night, and although during the day the house is undamaged, there are things on the floor in Conor's room that could only be there if the Monster is real, and his attack is real.

When the Monster perceives that Conor is not frightened by him he stops attacking, and then tells Conor that Conor called him. and that is why he is here. He calls himself Cerunnos, and Herne, and the Green Man, and he tells Conor that he only comes for matters of life and death. He promises that over succeeding nights he will tell Conor three stories, and that then Conor will tell him one, and it will be his own truth.

Conor is bullied at school, and gets in a fight. The yew visits Conor at his grandmother's house, where he has been constrained to live since his mother was hospitalized. After the yew talks of destroying things, he invites Conor to try it and see whether it relieves his feelings.

Conor finds that it does, and he destroys the furnishings in his grandmother's sitting room. No one punishes him for it, although his grandmother goes to her bedroom to cry about it. His mother takes a turn for the worse, and the grandmother hurries him to the hospital to say goodbye to his mother before she dies. Just before she dies, Conor is able to say what was impossible to say before. He says, "Mom, I don't want you to go." He also recognizes that a terrible dream he has been having, of not being able to continue to hold someone who has fallen over a cliff, and has him by the hand is a representation of his fear of his mother dying. In the dream, he just gets to the part where the hands slip apart when he wakes up. He knows that this is an expression of his fear of his mother dying and leaving him. He also begins to recognize that the yew tree is his anger over the loss, externalized. Anger is an early stage of adjusting to grief.
Understanding that, and depicting Conor's response that way was done so deftly.

My last job before I retired was as the Night Nurse of a Children's Psychiatric Hospital. I was so impressed by the author's understanding. Traumatized children act out, and sometimes violently.

This was a fine book.

Edited: Jan 4, 2020, 9:20pm

I have five more books that I have already read, but not recorded yet. I got a cold from my granddaughter, and I have been too ill to review. A comment is all I have energy for.

123 On the Prowl by Briggs, Wilks, Chance, and Sunny. This is a collection of four novellas, all written by women, and all paranormal if main topic.

The first was the prequel to the last two Patricia Briggs books I read: the Alpha and Omega series. There refer to certain positions in werewolf packs, and also to a certain couple who are the focus of this series. I don't like them as much as the other Patricia Briggs series I have read, the Mercedes Thompson series. Still, it was good to read about how these two protagonist characters met--Charles and Anna.

The second novella was by Eileen Wilks, and was a murder mystery, of a sort. It described a Hellhound who had become human in form and intelligence, but still served the same function, working as a police officer named "Hunter".

The third novella, by Karen Chance, is about a woman who is taken to Faerie for ill purposes, but when she has sex with a Fae for the first time, discovers she is also a dragon. It was funny, and creative, with Fae characteristics I have not read of before. They made sense, but were unusual. I may look for more by this author. I have read some before, but never really been so intrigued.

The fourth novella is by the person who uses the nom de plume "Sunny". It was about a sexual encounter between a new Queen and one of her retinue. It was quite explicit, and while that doesn't bother me, for some reason I didn't really like this novella, and I have no desire to buy more of this.

124. The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by Lawrence Block
This was the first novel in Lawrence Block's Evan Tanner series. It is about a man whose sleep center was destroyed during war-front military service during the Korean War. In this book he hears of a fortune in solid gold that was secreted by someone in Turkey during a more recent war, and has a good chance of still being there. He decides to go after it, for sheer greed, and during his early travels he is mistaken for a spy courier, and given some secret military plans when he is in Northern Ireland. This gets him into a problem that loses him his passport, and he resorts to illegal means of crossing the several borders on his way to Turkey. In Turkey illegally, he finds the treasure, but now has to figure a way to profit from it, and to get home to the United States. In the long run he is rescued from durance vile by an unknown and thoroughly secret government arm, more secret than the CIA spy corps, and recruited as a spy for them because he did such a good job of secretly getting the plans to the right people while he was becoming wealthy.

125. Shooting at Loons by Margaret Maron. This is the third book in the Deborah Knott series, about a judge in the Carolinas, who solves mysteries because she is curious and knows lots of people. Good, but I still don't like this series as well as the others that were recommended to me by numerous people here.

126. The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis I found this book on a list of books that were under-regarded, and it was great! It is the story of an orphaned girl in the United States who becomes a chess Grandmaster as a young adult, and how that happens. It's a shame if it is no longer read.

127. Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs
This continues the Alpha and Omega series by this author. It continues to compare unfavorably with the Mercedes Thompson series. They are both set in the same world, but I just don't like these characters as much. Nevertheless, I am sure that a fan of this world would enjoy these.

110. Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii by James L. Haley and I've already learned something just from the introduction. I'll come back and tell you about it.

There is no doubt that this is the most readable and enjoyable one of the Hawaiian histories I have read. It is more detailed where I am glad to read more, and includes some threads which were just left out of the others. An example is how much the common people were abused by the ali'i, the high nobles, and another thread about the sodomy that was very common in the male ali'l. Apparently the kings and upper nobles frequently had male lovers who could share the parts of their lives that they were not allowed to share with women, like dining together. Some of the relationships are much easier to understand when this possible relationship is included.

This author explains in the introduction that he had thought to seek an advanced degree based on this scholarship, but was told by a mentor that only books which explored the American rapaciousness and colonialism in the history of Hawaii would be allowed as topics for advanced degrees in the modern climate. Mr. Haley then decided to continue to do his history-telling as a non-Master, and non-Ph D. It is easy to assume that he considered the truth more important than the degrees. I wonder whether he would have chosen differently if he had found his books (He has written other histories, mostly of Texas) harder to publish.

In any case, this is both easier to read and more inclusive. I am very glad I didn't stop reading Hawaii books before I got to this one.

Jan 7, 2020, 1:38pm

I’m only just now catching up with this thread, before I check out your 2020 thread. Just wanted to say I really admire all the Hawaii reading you’ve done and I loved reading about the histories here. Glad you tried out Unfamiliar Fishes and got a little of the Sarah Vowell experience, even if it didn’t quite work out for you. Hope you’re cold is past now and you’re feeling better.
This topic was continued by Club Read--sallypursell's 2020 reading.