Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hi, again.

Thanks, Kay, for the compliment on the quilt. I only wish I were all that organized. Sometimes I feel very disorganized.

The Kay also asked about what books I have been reading. Well, there are quite a few and they are an eclectic batch. I have found my reading patterns have changed over the last few years. I used to read each book I got all the way through. I find I don't do that any more. Too often I find that what looks like an interesting book just fails to hold my interest. I have learned to give myself permission not to continue with those books. Often I find that re-reading an old favorite is more enjoyable than a new acquaintance. That said, here is a bit of a taste.

I found S.M. Stirlings' 'Emberverse' series this summer. Those include Dies The Fire, The Protector's War, Meetng at Corvalis, Sunrise Lands, Scourge of God, Sword of the Lady, Island in a Sea of Time, Against The Tide of Years, On The Oceans of Eternity. These books tell parallel stories. The first six follow the survivors of a strange event that changed the physical nature of the world in such a manner that electricity doesn't work, internal combustion engines can't function, even steam engines simply don't work. Suddenly, people are thrust into a world that hasn't been seen in five hundred years or more. The second trilogy follows the inhabitants of Nantucket Island who are thrust a bit more than 2000 years into the past by the same event that killed the modern power based society for those left in the modern world. The two groups face many of the same problems. However, the inhabitants of Nantucket have also to deal with bronze age societies in the age of Ramses the Great in Egypt and Agamemnon of Greece. My favorite entries in this series are Dies the Fire and Island In a Sea of Time. I am a sucker for good 'It's the end of the world a we know it' stories. Unfortunately there aren't that many of them.

I also enjoyed James Kunstler's The Long Emergency and A World Made By Hand. The first is non-fiction in which Kunstler looks at the implications of our dependency on oil and what would happen if oil were simply unavailable. The world in which workers can commute long distances between home and work, shop by car at big box stores supplied a couple of times a week by truck, work mega farms with massive machinery that requires copious quantities of fossil fuel derived substances (oil, gas, tires), and grow super abundant crops that require large scale applications of oil derived pesticides and herbicides. A world Made By Hand is fiction based on the premises outlined in The Long Emergency.

Mysteries have long provided me a great deal of pleasure ever since I discovered Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Charlie Chan, Judge Dee, Hercule Poirot, and Jane Marple many decades ago.
More recent additions include Susan Wittig Albert's sleuth, China Bayles, and Monica Ferris' Betsy Devonshire. Both are series characters and I have almost all of the books in each. The latest entries are Wormwood (China Bayles) and Blackwork (Betsy Devonshire). I have always preferred the 'puzzle' mystery over the 'hard boiled.'

A few years ago I discovered the Anita Blake series by Laurel K. Hamilton. Anita is young, pretty, small, feminine and a vampire executioner who raises the dead. In the later books in the series she is also the human servant of the Master vampire of the city of St. Louis, the Lupa (queen) of the local werewolf clan (though not a werewolf herself), the Namir-Raj of the local wereleopard clan (also not a wereleopard) and a powerful necromancer. The latest in the series is Skin Trade but I think my favorite of them all is Obsidian Butterfly which I think is the best vampire/mystery crossover I have ever come across.

Jeffrey Deaver also puts out a good story. His Lincoln Rhyme series is well worth the time. Rhyme is a quadriplegic who is a crime scene analyst usually partnered with his lover Detective Amelia Sachs. This year's soft cover release is The Broken Window which is a terrifying story of a serial killer who can find any information on anyone and really mess up some lives while taking others. As an introduction to the series try the first--The Bone Collector.

Another recent addition was the latest in the Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins--Skullduggery. Gideon Oliver is a physical anthropologist who also solves mysteries by looking at bones. This latest is set at a Mexican resort owned by relatives of Gideon's wife, Julie and weaves a tangled thread between the 10 year old skeleton of a murdered child, a skull attributed to a Toltec princess 1000 years dead, and a recent stabbing death of an itinerant poor Mexican man.

If you want some enlightening books on modern economics and politics you might look at Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy and Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell. If you now anyone who thinks that politics and religion and oil have nothing in common referr them to Phillips. And the next time anyone tells you that Wal-Mart means a jobs bonanza give them a copy of Shell's book.

That is a partial list and since I am getting tired so I will bid you all good night and see you tomorrow. Have a good night.

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