Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heard about a Book...

Heard a radio caller say this was a great audio book—The Last Days of Ptolemy by Walter Mosley.

From the author's website:

At ninety-one years old, Ptolemy Grey is one of the world’s forgotten: by his family, by his friends, by even himself. Marooned in a cluttered Los Angeles apartment overflowing with mementos from his past, Ptolemy sinks deeper into lonely dementia and into a past that’s best left buried. He’s determined to pass the rest of his days with only his memories for company. Until, at his grandnephew’s funeral, he meets Robyn and experiences a seismic shift, in his head, his heart, and his life.

Seventeen and without a family of her own, Robyn is unlike anyone Ptolemy has ever known. She and Ptolemy form an unexpected bond that reinvigorates his world. Robyn will not tolerate the way he has allowed himself to live, skulking in and out of awareness barely long enough to cash his small pension checks, living in fear of his neighbors and the memories that threaten to swallow him. With Robyn’s help, Ptolemy moves from isolation back into the brightness of friendship and desire. But Robyn’s challenges also push Ptolemy to make a life-changing decision that will affect both of them: to recapture the clarity and vigor of his fading mind and unlock the secrets he has carried for decades.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heard about a Book...

I read several good reviews (Guardian News, The Independent, Seattle Post) about Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.

From Goodreads.com:

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

Heard about a Book...

For you WWII buffs, A Measureless Peril by Richard Snow looks very interesting.

About the book:

Author Richard Snow tackles the longest battle of WWII, the Battle of the Atlantic, which ran from 1939 through 1945. The story of this aspect of the war gets short shrift in most WWII histories and documentaries despite being the one area where Germany came the closest to actually winning the war. Snow takes the reader from the difficult early days of the war when the Allies struggled to deal with the U-Boat menace that was sinking a shocking amount of tonnage meant for Great Britain and later the Soviet Union which the members of the Kriegsmarine called "The Happy Time" through the painful evolution in tactics, technology & broken German codes that finally allowed the Allies to end the threat posed by the U-Boats. Snow introduces us to the brave men of the Merchant Marine and those who sailed on the newly introduced Destroyer Escort (DE) class specifically built to take on the U-Boats as they escorted Allied convoys across the Atlantic. As noted, author Snow's father was one of those who served on a DE during the war and his personal story along with those of many others bring the needed human element to the narrative of this battle. These stories bring home just how hostile the Atlantic was for the men on both sides of the fight as the ocean didn't play favorites. This work wasn't intended as a serious, in-depth study of tactics and strategy but Snow does provide a good overview to put these personal stories in context of the times these battles were fought. Those who desire to better understand the human toll taken by this battle would be hard pressed to find a better book from where to start as Snow's writing is readily accessible without the prerequisite need for extensive knowledge of this theater.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heard about a Book...

I'm hearing good things about The Hypnotist by Swedish writer Lars Kepler (The Independent, The Daily Beast). Might be the next Stieg Larsson...

About The Hypnotist:

A triple homicide has Sweden on edge, and with the killer still at large, Detective Inspector Joona Linna’s only lead is one of the intended victims—the boy who saw his family killed before his eyes. But severely wounded and in a state of shock, he’s in no condition to be questioned.

Desperate for information, Linna enlists Dr. Erik Maria Bark to hypnotize the boy, hoping for some insight on the killer. It’s the sort of work that Bark had sworn he would never do again—ethically dubious and psychically scarring—and when he breaks his vow and hypnotizes the boy, a terrifying chain of events begins to unfurl…

Heard about a Book...

I follow several book and grammer twitterers (is that how you say people who twitter?), and Mignon Fogarty, A.k.A. @GrammarGirl, has a new grammar guide, 101 Misused Words You'll Never Confuse Again.

From Goodreads.com:

Millions of fans around the world write and communicate better thanks to Mignon Fogarty, aka Grammar Girl, whose weekly grammar podcast has been downloaded more than 30 million times. Since her first book, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, hit the New York Times bestseller list, her grammar empire has expanded to boast more than 40,000 newsletter subscribers, over 75,000 Twitter followers, and thousands of loyal “devotees” worldwide. Now she’s focusing her attention on improving our vocabulary with a series of 101 Words books designed to appeal to the masses.

The series kicks off with Grammar Girl’s 101 Misused Words You’ll Never Confuse Again, an immensely usable guide that tackles those words that confound and confuse even the smartest of people. Nearly everyone has trouble remembering the difference between “affect” and “effect,” whether it’s “supposedly” or “supposably,” or which form of “hear” you use in “Hear, hear!” (Or is it “Here, here!”?)

Each word pair entry contains a straightforward explanation—complete with examples—to ensure (or is it “insure”?) readers will be confidently choosing “who” over “whom” or “uninterested” over “disinterested” with ease. Alongside these usage notes will be fun tidbits including famous quotes, sample crossword entries, and the memory tricks Grammar Girl is known for.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just Started...

Upon Paul's recommendation, Jim is reading The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick, an account of the battle of Little Bighorn.

From the author's website:

Little Bighorn and Custer are names synonymous in the American imagination with unmatched bravery and spectacular defeat. Mythologized as Custer’s Last Stand, the June 1876 battle has been equated with other famous last stands, from the Spartans’ defeat at Thermopylae to Davy Crockett at the Alamo.

In his tightly structured narrative, Nathaniel Philbrick brilliantly sketches the two larger-than-life antagonists: Sitting Bull, whose charisma and political savvy earned him the position of leader of the Plains Indians, and George Armstrong Custer, one of the Union’s greatest cavalry officers and a man with a reputation for fearless and often reckless courage. Philbrick reminds readers that the Battle of the Little Bighorn was also, even in victory, the last stand for the Sioux and Cheyenne Indian nations. Increasingly outraged by the government’s Indian policies, the Plains tribes allied themselves and held their ground in southern Montana. Within a few years of Little Bighorn, however, all the major tribal leaders would be confined to Indian reservations.

Throughout, Philbrick beautifully evokes the history and geography of the Great Plains with his characteristic grace and sense of drama. The Last Stand is a mesmerizing account of the archetypal story of the American West, one that continues to haunt our collective imagination.