Wednesday, February 29, 2012

10. Watergate; A Novel

By:  Thomas Mallon
Rated:  Rated 4.5 Stars
Audio Book

I read about this book in bookgirls Diary Contemporary Fiction Views "Watergate"

She gave it a pretty good review.  Good enough that it made me want to read it for myself.  At the time The Watergate Hearings were going on and televised I was one of those rare periods of my life when I had lots of time.  We were getting ready to move overseas and I had taken the summer of 1974 off to pack and play. So I stayed glued to the television set because truthfully it all played like a soap opera to me.  I would even take notes so that I could keep my husband up to date.  I was very politically naive back in those days.  I still have a very vivid picture in my mind of us sitting at a picnic bench in the Canadian Rockies listening a portable radio to the announcement that Nixon had resigned .

But on to the book.  First off, it's a re-telling, written from various points of view. To quote bookgirl in her  Diary on KOS " I did look at the reviews on amazon and they are pretty mixed over there.  I really think that this is one of those books that while it's a pretty good read, you really had to "be there" to fully appreciate it.  bookgirl also complains that the author has made the story into a farce.   Well folks, that's exactly what it was.  Watching the hearings from May until August 1973 that was exactly what I felt like I was watching.  That's why it felt so much like a soap opera.  At one point it seemed to me that the conspirators were all running around acting like Keystone Cops.  I don't see how the author could have made it into more of a farce than it actually was.  What idiots we elect!  And STILL ARE!!!!!!!!!!!

I did like the authors explanation of how the 18 1/2 minute gap on the tape happened

Book Description

February 21, 2012
From one of our most esteemed historical novelists, a remarkable retelling of the Watergate scandal, as seen through a kaleidoscope of its colorful perpetrators and investigators.

For all the monumental documentation that Watergate generated—uncountable volumes of committee records, court transcripts, and memoirs—it falls at last to a novelist to perform the work of inference (and invention) that allows us to solve some of the scandal’s greatest mysteries (who did erase those eighteen-and-a-half minutes of tape?) and to see this gaudy American catastrophe in its human entirety.

In Watergate, Thomas Mallon conveys the drama and high comedy of the Nixon presidency through the urgent perspectives of seven characters we only thought we knew before now, moving readers from the private cabins of Camp David to the klieg lights of the Senate Caucus Room, from the District of Columbia jail to the Dupont Circle mansion of Theodore Roosevelt’s sharp-tongued ninety-year-old daughter (“The clock is dick-dick-dicking”), and into the hive of the Watergate complex itself, home not only to the Democratic National Committee but also to the president’s attorney general, his recklessly loyal secretary, and the shadowy man from Mississippi who pays out hush money to the burglars.

Praised by Christopher Hitchens for his “splendid evocation of Washington,” Mallon achieves with Watergate a scope and historical intimacy that surpasses even what he attained in his previous novels, as he turns a “third-rate burglary” into a tumultuous, first-rate entertainment.

Friday, February 24, 2012

9. In a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson
Rated 5 Stars
Kindle Format

I recently became very curious about Australia after reading a book about Australian Pioneer Women.  And for me, who better to turn to than Bill Bryson who is my very favorite travel writer in the world.  In fact, I admire him so much as a writer that I am making plans to be just like him in my next life.  I have, unfortunately, left it a little late for this one. ;)

But the description below is right about it being a dangerous place.  Australia is one tough country. Aside from having one of  some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet it also has an awful lot of scary critters running around loose.

The upside is that if the people I know from that part of the world are typical then some of the nicest people in the world live there.  Australia, New Zealand (They Have Hobbits!) and Tasmania are high on my places to visit in my next life.

What, they don't really have Hobbits?  Darn!!!

Book Description

May 15, 2001
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the WoodsIn A Sunburned Countryis his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

7. Great Pioneer Women of the Outback

By: Suzanna De Vris
Rated 5 Star
Audio Book

While browsing through a book list the other day I noticed this book "Great Pioneer Women of the Outback," and because I now know a few people from this part of the world I thought I would give it a try. I have read my fair share of books featuring our American pioneer women riding west in covered wagons, fighting off indians, living in sod houses and fighting off spiders, enduring dust storms, etc. etc.

But while I have the greatest respect for them and their ability to endure hardships I think that at the end of the day their lives were much easier than the lives of the women who braved the Australian Outback. What really stunned me about Australia was the sheer size of the place.  If you whacked off Alaska Australia is bigger than the US and our Southwest could be tucked away neatly into a corner of your outback.

It's now obvious to me that this is a very interesting country that I would like to know more about.  And because I am a person who likes to learn things the easy way I am off to the library to find Bill Bryson's book "In a Sunburned Country"  In my next life I am going to be a travel writer and be able to write just like him.  That will be OK because he will be off doing something else leaving the field clear for me. :) I would like to add that I ended the book very angry about the way Georgiana Molloy (1805-1843) was treated during her life time by . . . . well . . . . by the men in her life.  It's reading about women like her that has given me definite feminist tendencies.

Publisher's Summary:

From the 1800's to the onset of World War I, pioneers making their homes in outback Australia were joined by their wives, many of whom had no idea of the difficulties and dangers ahead. These women encountered conditions which would test their resilience and resourcefulness to the utmost: relentless heat, dust and isolation; hostile wildlife; no medical facilities; and never-ending, backbreaking work. Great Pioneer Women of the Outback profiles 10 female pioneers, from Jeannie Gunn, author of We of the Never Never, to equally remarkable but lesser known women, such as Emma Withnell in Western Australia and Evelyn Maunsell in Queensland. Building on the women's records and her own knowledge of Australian history, Susanna de Vries documents the grit and determination it took to build what many today would consider an extraordinary life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

6. Sick of Shadows

By:  Sharon McCrumb
Rated 4 Stars
Kindle Book

I read this back way back when  and loved it. Re-reading it recently left me a bit nostalgic for some of the wittier books in this series.  I will continue to work my way through them as they are released on Kindle. But this is still a good book and I have always loved McCrumb's writing.  Elizabeth and her brother are compelling characters, and the rest of the wacky family are -- well, no spoilers! A light, easy and fun read, and the must-read intro into the other MacPherson tales.

Book Description

 The book that started it all for Edgar Award winner Sharyn McCrumb's widely acclaimed series featuring amateur sleuth Elizabeth MacPherson.
When delicate Eileen Chandler is set to marry, her family fears the man is a fortune hunter. Thank goodness, Eileen's cousin Elizabeth MacPherson comes early for support. Unfortunately, Elizabeth also has some detecting to do, as a dead body is found, and none of the wedding party is above suspicion....
"A good deal of suspense...McCrumb writes with a sharp-pointed pen."

Monday, February 13, 2012

5. 20 Miles per Cookie

By:  Nancy Sathre-Vogel
Rated 4 Stars
Pixel of Link
Free Kindle Book

I downloaded this free book on a whim.  The premise of the book was about a family of four who bicycled from Boise Idaho to New York city via Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

It was a quick but interesting read.  These are very gutsy people.

Here is a link to the families blog where the chronicle their adventures.

About this book: