Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King: A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson and Martin Dugard

I love history - the older, the better. This book, The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King: A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson and Martin Dugard, had me standing in the palace of Akhenaten and his son Tutankhamen, watching the political intrigue, the servant spies, and the murders of royalty. I followed Howard Carter and his patrons up and down the Valley of the Kings hunting for lost tombs and, more importantly, tomb treasure undisturbed by grave robbers.

The chapters mainly alternate between Ancient Egypt and the early 1900's while Howard Carter worked in Egypt. Occasionally James Patterson throws in a few pages that describe his own hunt for accurate information and some of his writing techniques. One of those techniques was "Be There". Patterson describes events as if he were a personal observer in that time and place. His writing is so convincing that I came away from my reading with a suntan and sand under my fingernails. I felt the heat and gasped for a breath of pure air when Carter traversed the underground hallways carved for dead kings.

This book is more than worth the time you spend reading it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke

In Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke, Hannah Swensen does more baking at home than she does in her bakery, The Cookie Jar. When Hannah is stressed, she bakes, and in this book, she has plenty of cause for stress.

Hannah's sister, Andrea, is terrified that her husband is going to accept a job offer in Florida. Hannah's younger sister, Michelle, moves in with her. Norman goes away for a few days, leaving his cat with Hannah. She is recruited to be a magician's assistant for a friend during a huge city-wide event for which she is also baking hundreds of cookies and apple turnovers. On top of that, the man who caused Hannah damage in college and is now dating her sister, ends up murdered right after Hannah threatens him in front of witnesses.

I will not tell you the end. But...both Norman and Mike surprise Hannah... and not necessarily in a way that makes her happy. And there are some excellent new recipes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

History for Genealogists

History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines To Find and Understand Your Ancestors. By Judy Jacobson. Clearfield. 2009.

As advertised by the subtitle, this book is mainly timelines ... but sandwiched among the timelines in highly readable style are examples of how timelines can help track ancestors. Included are looks at immigration from various countries and migration by trails and roads. The influences of military actions, racism, religion, disease, disasters, and economics are considered along with sections on myths, confusion, secrets, lies, missing persons and lost towns and states. Sketchy timelines are included for each state and several countries. Includes bibliography and index.

Available for use in the Local History area at the Seymour Library.
- Charlotte Sellers

Sunday, May 9, 2010

13 Bankers

13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. Pantheon. 30 March 2010.

He Who Has the Gold ... makes the rules – and Wall Street has. Reading this book, I thought about greedy needy King John of England and events surrounding the Magna Carta in 1215 ... as if the banks were king and, in my dreams, Congress the barons who [could have] stood up to the king.

Johnson and Kwak in the book and their frequently quoted Baseline Scenario website report in clear and readable pages how Wall Street and federal lawmakers reached their current symbiotic state where politics depends more and more on money which Wall Street continues to accumulate in ever greater quantities and uses to make dependent friends in the nation’s capital.

The authors lay out why current practices threaten the economy, the country, and the well-being of all. Only public opinion – “a popular consensus that too big to fail is too big to exist” – can bring about “the choice to finish the job that [Theodore] Roosevelt began a century ago, and to take a stand against concentrated financial power just as he took a stand against concentrated industrial power.”

They make a compelling and understandable case for regulation.
- Charlotte Sellers