Book Sins

I hate to single out books for hate, so I thought of a a way to do it without getting too nasty. You could still figure it out if you try, and if you really want to know, you could send me a private message and I’ll tell you, but I’m not trying to single out anyone for unfair criticism here. After all, it’s just my opinion. But there are some things that really bugged me about these books and I think it’s fair to warn you if you’re planning to read them.

  • A, S D by M K – cozy mystery. Tried too hard. Why do cozies do this? They remind me of the kids at school who want to be liked so much that they wear the latest fashion, attach themselves to the coolest crowd, and try to fool everyone into thinking that they belong. If you have to try that hard, you’re not cool. Your humor either works, or it doesn’t, and desperation is not helping.
  • TWWBK by KC – biography. Speculation. Look, either it’s biography or it’s fiction, but quit trying to be both. If you don’t have the sources to back up your guess work, just write it as historical fiction. Don’t try to sell it as non-fiction. You’re just irritating your readers.
  • A&TFK by SP – YA romance. General grump here. I think I was the wrong audience, but hey, tell your characters to quit whining already. You’re in Paris. That’s not too bad. Enjoy it already.
  • F by MRC – could you be more depressing? a druggie kills a kid and goes to prison? Why did I read this? My fault here, I should have expected it to be bleak.
  • Y by CK – thriller. This book does nothing by glorify stalking. It is disturbing and horrible. Why is this rated so highly? And why are some readers defending him? He’s a stalker, abusive, and a murderer. There’s no defense.

Those were my 1 star reads of the year. I may end up with more. Did you guess any of them? All of them? Some weren’t too hard.

Top 10 Tuesday

Inspired my recent read, A Lady in the Smoke, which features a railway doctor, I thought I would give my Top 10 Books on Medicine that I would recommend. These are mostly non-fiction, but include some fiction as well.

  1. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This one is about cancer, and it’s a truly impressive book from start to finish. I was amazed at the amount of research that went into this. I read it after my dad passed away from cancer, and yet I found it an inspiration to read about all the people who are working so hard to find treatments and one day, even a cure.
  2. In Reckless Hands: Skinner V. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics by Victoria F. Nourse. If the last book inspired me, this one enraged me. Eugenics was a big movement for a shockingly long time which culminated in Nazi experiments in the prison camps. But it was big here in the US as well, and could have become law if not for a landmark court case.
  3. The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby. I’ve read a lot of epidemic books, and this is my favorite on yellow fever. I tell you, you’ll be swatting mosquitoes a lot harder after this book!
  4. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by Gay Salisbury. This is another great one to read this summer when you’re sweltering in the heat. Read about the race through blizzards to get a diphtheria antidote to an isolated community in Alaska and you’ll feel so thankful for vaccines and for air conditioning both.
  5. Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug by Diarmuid Jeffreys. From its discovery to Bayer’s shameful Nazi connections to modern research, this covers everything.
  6. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley. I really liked the way this book organized, a chapter for every pair of chromosomes, and a gene from every chromosome. It’s not even a little comprehensive, but it was compelling reading.
  7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Lacks was a poor Black woman who died of cancer, but her cells live on in research that has saved hundreds of lives. However, that raises questions about the rights of patients in this book that’s now a movie.
  8. The Leper of Saint Giles by Ellis Peters. I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries, but this one is my favorite in the series. Not only is the mystery compelling, but the description of the nursing among the lepers in England, of the disease and its effects is truly moving.
  9. An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears. This one is big. But it’s my favorite look at 17th century medicine. It was a time of great discovery, but also a time of superstition and prejudice. Told from multiple POV, it makes the story more complex.
  10. The Physician by Noah Gordon. An orphan is driven by an urgent need to know how the body works. He makes his way to medieval Palestine so he can study medicine and learn what there is to know.

Review: A Lady in the Smoke

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Review: A Lady in the Smoke

Author: Karen Odden

Format: audiobook

Setting: 1874 England

Themes: love, family, medicine, addiction, revenge, politics, law

Lady Elizabeth Fraser and her mother are returning home after a miserable London Season only to be involved in a train wreck. Elizabeth has a minor concussion and her mother’s ankle is sprained, but she can’t manage anything without Elizabeth’s help. Only handsome Dr. Wilcox is able to provide the care her mother needs. Elizabeth is drawn to the young man, but such a match would never be permitted by Society. Elizabeth knows this, but her heart refuses to listen. She’s drawn into Dr. Wilcox’s life, his crusade for safer railway conditions, and the bitter struggle against his powerful enemies.

I found this one while browsing the titles my library had available for online audiobooks, and I have to say I was hooked. I love a good historical mystery and this one was very promising. Victorian setting, star-crossed lovers, class struggles, and a new author, it was lots of fun. Definitely recommended.

 

Write Everyday, Even If You Hate It

I have a hard time with this. We have a LOT of people in our house and only one computer. I have a tablet, but some days I don’t get any computer time until late at night. By then, I’m not very creative. I need to find a way to write every day any way I can. I’m still working on it.

A Writer's Path

Pen

For the last three weeks, I was forced to write everyday in order to complete a presentation for an English symposium and to complete my creative writing portfolio for a public reading (each are requirements of my major and emphasis). The problem initially was my lack of enthusiasm. I have, in the past, written not based on routine or discipline, but because I like writing and I enjoy it immensely.

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Review: The Fixer

Title: The Fixer

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Setting: Washington DC

Tagline: Scandal meets Veronica Mars

Why did I read this book? I think it was because other people I follow really liked it, so I decided to give it a try. I should have known I wouldn’t really like it though.

It wasn’t that it was awful. The basic idea is not bad – Tessa is forced to move in with her older sister after their grandfather’s illness gets bad, finds out sister is a political fixer in DC, Tessa gets caught up in secret stuff in her elite high school, winds up in a big conspiracy – but then I have to go back to the beginning – it’s about high school. I don’t like books about high school. I already did that, did it with my kids, have no desire to read about it, watch shows about it, nothing.

So I’m sorry, whoever it was that read this and loved it, it just wasn’t for me. I did finish it and like I say, I didn’t hate it. But I didn’t like it either. At least it was a quick read from the library so I didn’t buy it or spend too much time with it.

2/5 stars

Currently reading

Into the Heart of Tasmania (and not enjoying it)

The Lady in the Smoke

about to start

American Born Chinese

 

Review: Norse Mythology

30831912Title: Norse Mythology

Author: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Short stories and myths

When I was younger, I couldn’t understand how the Norse could live with gods that would die. How could they stand a mythology that included an end of the world where the gods lost and the world ended and the bad guys won? Nobody else really had that, as far as I understood. Well, I’m glad I read this book, because I get it now.

It helps that I’m older and, I hope, a little wiser now. I understand that sometimes old things have to come to an end to make room for new things. Death has a purpose. Things start off new and fresh, full of promise and bright beginnings, then mature, then start to decay. Eventually they wither and fade. Death is just a natural conclusion. It’s necessary.

Not to be a downer. Most of this book is about the crazy things the gods do. Like the Romans or Greeks or Persians, these gods are pretty human – they are jealous, petty, vengeful, proud, in short, just like us. But they can be capable of great things too. And they’re pretty funny sometimes.

It’s just that ending that bothered me. And now that I’ve read Gaiman’s book, I get it. It’s not so much an ending as a new beginning. And that’s something I can really appreciate. 4.5 stars

10 Things About Me

1991Picture of me 1991, just after we got married. Notice our awesome newlywed furniture!

I needed some things to write about, and I always like lists, so how about a list about me? Feel free to ask me questions; maybe next time I’ll answer those questions too!

  1. Favorite food: Chicken scalloppine – yummiest thing ever
  2. Favorite cuisine: either Tex-Mex or Italian
  3. Favorite author: Terry Pratchett
  4. Place I’d like to visit: Oh, so many! Top of the list right now, I’d have to put New Zealand. It sounds beautiful and friendly.
  5. Bad habit: picking my lip. Anxious habit that I can’t seem to help.
  6. Ever gotten a ticket? Yes, for speeding. I like to go fast!
  7. Cool thing not many people have done: I got to pet a lion cub at the St. Louis Zoo. It was members night and they were letting him meet a few kids.
  8. Longest book you ever read? Don Quixote
  9. Least favorite book? Wuthering Heights
  10. First concert you went to? Buck Owens, age 2

So there’s a few interesting things about me. I hope that was fun. Let me know if you have any other questions for me.

Red Herrings: How To Keep Your Readers Guessing [Mystery Month]

I found this really helpful

Rachel Poli

What’s your favorite part about reading a mystery novel?

You want to try to solve the case, right? You want to help the detective, telepathically communicate with the characters and figure things out, yes?

Yeah, me too. That’s why red herrings are so important because it allows the reader to not figure things out.

Or… You know, get them stuck for a little while.

Red Herrings: How To Keep Your Readers Guessing [Mystery Month]What are Red Herrings?

Red herrings is a something that appears to be a clue, but it’s not. It’s fake and it’s just there to throw the characters off the hot trail. It allows the characters and readers alike to go in different directions as they frustratingly try to solve the mystery.

Red herrings can be in the form of anything:

1. An innocent character – An innocent bystander can have motive and reason to go about the crime allowing your detective to suspect him of…

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Tips to Help You Concentrate While Writing

Got this from I Suck at Writing – I found it helpful. I hope you do too.

Novelty Revisions

Are you an easily distracted writer? I could make this post very short and sweet and tell you to get off the internet and just write already, but that doesn’t always solve your problem. I’ve greatly improved my ability to concentrate over the past few months, which has made me much more productive and satisfied with my work. Here are a few strategies that might help you focus and get more writing done.

Write in intervals

You’re going to get distracted — sometimes, there’s no way to avoid it. If you’re having trouble getting into a flow state, it might be better to use your inability to focus to your advantage. Try writing for 30 minutes straight without looking away from your screen. Set a timer so you don’t have to keep glancing at the time. Once 30 minutes hits, one of two things will happen. You’ll either stop writing…

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