Sunday, March 23, 2014

catching up

It's been a long time since I actually posted about books. Things have been, as you've noticed, a little overwhelming. We're down to less than four weeks to my due date. The car seat's installed; Berowne's painted the changing table and is installing the new kitchen sink fixtures to facilitate bathing; I'm laundering baby stuff and packing the hospital bag.

The birds are building their nests, and arrived this morning on the porch seeking the long white fluffy hair they have used for the past five springs. Fortunately we still have a stockpile up in the bedroom, since we haven't had the heart to put away his crate yet. I shall gather some and bring it outside later today.

We all miss him terribly. Reading in bed at night, I listen for his big clumsy paws on the stairs. I look for his face when I get home. Bingley is a wonderful dog whom I love with all my heart, but it's not the same without the big Bear.

However, I have been reading. Mostly because I'm getting to the point at which sitting around with my feet up is close to all I can handle. Ten minutes at Home Depot with my husband and I start whining like a toddler about my feet and my back and my bladder and the fact that I am around other human beings. It's extremely attractive.

The books:

Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths, by Nancy Marie Brown. This was my Early Reviewers book for the month, and I couldn't quite get into it, which seems a shame. It documents the life and writings of Snorri, the 13th-century Icelandic poet who wrote down the sagas from which almost all our Norse mythology derives. Brown is comprehensive and passionate, but the political machinations and the multitudes of people involved had me lost some of the time. I did like parts of it, especially when she talked about the writings, but the political history wasn't written in a way that grabbed me, so I think I missed some of the writings' context.

Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey, by Peter Carlson. This is actually non-fiction, though the title implied otherwise to me. It tells the story of two Northern journalists who were imprisoned in a Southern POW camp and escaped. It's very fun and very well written.

Gallows Thief, by Bernard Cornwall. Novel about a Regency-era investigator for the Crown. Didn't thrill me enough to check out the others in the series.

Hurting Distance, by Sophie Hannah. Very creepy, good novel that had the potential I suspected in Hannah after reading her first book. You can still guess the culprit before the other characters do, but I couldn't put it down nonetheless.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, by Sam Kean. Far more science-y than I expected. Of course I don't want authors to talk down to me, but I felt like one high school chemistry class over twenty years ago was not sufficient preparation for this book.

The Fiddler on Pantico Run: An African Warrior, His White Descendants, A Search for Family, by Joe Mozingo. Mozingo, whose family has been white as far back as anyone remembers, finds evidence that one of his ancestors was a freed slave, and sets out to investigate. The book jumps around geographically and chronologically, and isn't always compelling, but its lack of clear answers is handled well.

A Bloodsmoor Romance, by Joyce Carol Oates. WHAT. Oates is never less than interesting, but man, is she wacky.

Blind Justice, by Anne Perry. She's phoning stuff in these days. And yet I'll probably always keep reading.

The Marriage Spell, by Mary Jo Putney. A cute little romance novel set in a nineteenth century where magic is real. Which, come to think of it, is also the case in the Oates novel. Otherwise they are not, shall we say, similar reading experiences.

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, by Alexander McCall Smith. Light and cute, as always. Good comfort reading when life is challenging.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed The Disappearing Spoon, but then again I have a biochemistry degree and was a practicing chemist for many years (before chucking it all to become a medical librarian). The rivalry--and occasional shade throwing--between chemists and physicists is fascinating, especially in the context of quantum theory. Or maybe it is fascinating only to scientists.

    You might like better a book called Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey Williams. It is light on science, concentrating instead on the cultural and historical "stories" of elements and chemistry.

    Your writing is always a pleasure to read! Cheers from NY, Arpita