Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

This week’s question:

“If you could choose one thing you can no longer do and suddenly had the strength/time/resources to do once again, what would it be?”

Oh, dear! Regrets. I have had to get rid of regrets in my life. There have been so many turning points that could have led me to easier streets that it is hard not to have them. But I have had to let go. So let’s make this simple.

I found myself writing way too much and scrapped it.  It’s hard to choose when you have had to make major adjustments in your life, which I think most of us are now facing. If only we knew! If only we could make younger people understand how fast life changes.

I ran into a younger woman a few years ago who was dressed to the nines. I had to tell her how wonderful her outfit was, even to her shoes. She thanked me and then said, “I love my heels! I gotta have my heels. I’ll be wearing them when I am past your age.” I said, “Only if your feet and knees hold out, but don’t count on it.” Youthful arrogance! Do they think getting old is a choice? I absolutely hate the platitude that goes around Facebook every so often: “You don’t stop dancing because you’re old, you get old because you stop dancing.”

Man, I want to slug whoever posts that!

So, to choose one thing that I have had to give up, I’d have to say walking. Oh, I can walk, but I can’t go on the long day trips we used to do, the trails, the long mall strolls, the museums, zoos amusement parks and other sites, especially any place that has stairs; I simply cannot ‘do’ stairs without taking one at a time and with great discomfort.

I cannot even walk the local park trail which I did so much of when my grandson was in soccer. I wanted to go back to it but my doctor said, “No, you need to be on flat land.”  So, when feeling up to it, I can get on my treadmill, but now I understand the man who sold it to me. He said, “I can’t stand to be inside walking. I want to get out and see nature”. Outside, I would keep walking and would push myself a little farther, but inside, a very short time it feels like forever. Of course, my health has changed in the last couple of years.

I try to read with Kindle while on it, I try to listen to audiobooks, but the time still goes by slowly.

Even if I do manage a bit of walking, like when we make a few stops while on trips to Louisville, I pay for it  dearly. We make the most of the trips, well, I don’t make as much of it as I once did. Just getting my ‘land legs’ again after I’ve been in the car is a real pain, and not just physically, because now I look like an old lady when I walk.

And I am treated like one.

I don’t mind a little respect, but that doesn’t come often. Once again, a nurse in a doctor’s office came on with my test schedule the other day with a “Here ya go, Sweetheart”. As brightly as I could muster, I countered with a “Why, thank you, Darling!”

She stopped with a nervous laugh.

I may have had to give up my sandals, but haven’t had to give up my dignity. I may have trouble with walking, but not with my wit.

Advertisements
Posted in Life, Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How I Was, Once Upon a Time

… And What I Wish Could Still Be the Same

By Jeff Salter

This month, we’ve had some pretty deep topics here at 4F1H. On Aug. 8, I blogged on what I’ve learned about life so far. Today, our question is: What’s one significant thing you can no longer do because of strength, time or resources? Wow… heavy.

Having posted here on Hound Day since February of 2011 – today’s column is # 450 – I guess I’ve revealed quite a bit about myself. Well, today we get down to the real nitty-gritty.

When I began – on Monday – reading the posts of my Fox colleagues, my first thought was that I might focus on the general issues of aging, which have significantly affected my mobility, flexibility, and durability. Certainly, as I rapidly approach my sixty-ninth birthday, these are all waning dramatically.

stomach-pain

But as I reflected further (yesterday, when I began drafting this), an issue even more “impactful” than my back pain, joint pain, and general age-related issues (like osteo-arthritis), is my stomach problem. This is not the venue for me to go into detail about symptoms or diagnoses, but suffice it to say that my stomach issues have prevented me from traveling (which I used to handle well), and from going to venues where there are no restrooms (or with facilities that are too limited, too primitive, or too nasty).

See? The very topic is unsavory to discuss in polite blogging.

The first question on everyone’s mind is usually, “Why don’t you see a doctor?”

Duh. I’ve seen doctors – generalists and specialists – and I’ve had ultrasounds and scopes (and tests for several things like crohn’s and celiac disease).

The next issue I often encounter is someone who also has stomach problems – whether or not they’re very similar to mine – who will swear by the particular prescription THEIR doctor has put THEM on. Well, Friend, I’m glad you’ve got your symptoms under control, but that does not necessarily mean it will work that exact miracle on me!

Sound defensive?

I’ve been battling this for nine years. Though some of these symptoms had appeared in earlier years, they were comparatively milder and much more isolated in frequency. Beginning in mid-2010, they were nearly constant.

I do NOT have crohn’s and I am NOT a celiac patient. My stomach specialist believes gluten is NOT the primary culprit… though he does state that he has many patients with similar symptoms who have improved their quality of life (and stomach symptoms) by eliminating gluten from their diets.

So I have. I have not knowingly ingested gluten since October of 2011, though occasionally I’ve eaten something I did not realize contained gluten… and have definitely suffered the consequences.

Then I encounter the folks who tell me that WHEAT – and products made from wheat – are NOT the cause of my stomach issues. And, technically, they may be correct. I’ve done a LOT of research on the matter, and I now know that America’s wheat has gradually – over a few decades – been so altered by genetic modification, other laboratory manipulation, and the poisons in herbicides… that it’s a distinctly different product than what I consumed growing up. Furthermore, I’ve learned that some places in Europe still grow and market the “original” (i.e., natural) wheat – without the poison herbicides – which supposedly does NOT have all the modifications that are likely the true culprit in many of my stomach issues… rather than wheat itself (or gluten itself).

Oh well.

I do everything I can to avoid consuming gluten… and thereby greatly miss eating some of my all-time favorites like REAL cinnamon rolls, donuts, brownies, cakes, pies, dinner rolls, muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc. Yeah, I know certain companies make gluten-free alternates of those using rice flour, or wallpaper paste, or some other core ingredient… but they often taste like recycled cardboard manufactured from creek sand. [In fact, last month, I had a G-F pizza which tasted precisely like that.] So, with great discipline, I’ve learned to lower my taste expectations and restrict my diet to cringe-worthy monotony.

Now, to directly answer my translation of the question posed for today: What do I wish could be the same as it once was?

My reply: MY STOMACH! I can no longer travel… and can no longer jump in my truck and go hither and thither to this event and that venue — without careful regard to where I’ll be, how long I’ll be there, what time of day it is (with respect to when I last ate something and what it was), and what facilities are readily available at that site.

And, yeah… that really STINKS.

Question:

Any particular limitations on your life that you which you could reverse?

[JLS # 450]

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

It’s Tough to Get Old

If you could choose one thing you can no longer do and suddenly had the strength/time/resources to do once again, what would it be?

For those of you who don’t yet know, it’s tough to get old.  It isn’t just one thing that you’d like to do again; it’s a whole list of things.

For starters, my back hurts right below my rib cage, and no amount of massaging makes any difference. I go to a chiropractor as well, and that helps, but nothing totally takes the pain away. Sitting for an extended period of time is almost impossible, and if you’re a writer you spend a lot of time sitting in front of your computer. This problem is definitely impacting my productivity. It takes much longer to write a novel than it used to. I’ve also noticed that my fingers don’t dance across the keyboard as quickly as they used to.

I can’t stand for extended periods of time either, which means that walking is limited. We walk the dog every day, but it only takes thirty or forty minutes, and when we finish I’m ready to get off my feet. This limits travel options. I’d love to go to Greece and explore the old ruins, but I’m not sure my back would like it.

Housework of course suffers also. I always took pride in my home and made sure it was clean and neat. Well, I’ve started to cut a few corners. It’s still clean, but it isn’t always neat. Throughout the day I pile things at the foot of the stairs, and I take them up when I have to go upstairs.

So what’s my answer to the question? I’d like to be able to move around as easily as I used to. No more stiffness or soreness. I’m sure that would make me pretty happy. I might even take up horseback riding again.

Posted in Elaine Cantrell, experiences, Life, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

If I Could Only …

Woman at Seaside

This week’s topic is one I selected. I have the feeling I was dealing with various medical issues in my family and bemoaning the fact that I’m not as young as I once was. Some days just don’t have enough hours because it takes longer to do everything, and on other days there’s enough time but not enough energy. I’ve had to accept the fact that I can no longer do everything I once did. So, the question I posed to my fellow bloggers this week was “If you could choose one thing you can no longer do and suddenly had the strength/time/resources to do once again, what would it be?”

I’m still able to do most of the things that give me joy. The only limitations for me are physical. My knees give me a lot of trouble, so I can’t climb lots of steps. This made visiting historical sites a challenge, as many ancient ruins in Greece and Japan were accessible only by walking, and the steps to get to them are steep and narrow. Even in America there have been times when steps stopped me from following my fellow travelers. A few years my daughters ran up the steps to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the iconic scene from the movie Rocky was filmed. My brother and sister-in-law followed at a slightly slower pace. I stayed at the bottom of the steps and took pictures, thinking “If I’d stayed in shape, I could have joined the rest of my family at the top.”

Another thing that I can do with physical limitations is to perform music. At one time I had plans to become a professional orchestra musician. However, my four years in undergraduate school convinced me that 1) there are LOTS of fabulous oboe players with more drive and determination to fill the limited number of orchestral seats, and 2) there are LOTS of other things I’d rather do with my time than practice hard enough to get one. So, I wisely chose to get my teaching degree and honestly have never regretted it. For a long time, my instruments made it out of the case perhaps once or twice a year, and it’s only within the last ten years that I’ve joined community groups that make it necessary to play regularly. My joints and my mind have aged, which means I can’t play with as much technical dexterity as I once did, but for the most part I can hold my own. But sometimes I wonder if I could have made it as a professional.

Another thing this aging body won’t let me do is to sit for extended periods of time. Back in high school and college, I could stay in one place for a long time, which allowed me to study, get my assignments done and read long books in one sitting. But for the past 20 years or so I’ve had back problems. I can’t sit on hard surfaces at all, and even when there’s a cushioned seat my back aches after sitting in one place for more than a few minutes. So getting anything done that requires sitting and concentrating takes much, much longer than it used to. I normally compensate for that by having several different things going at the same time and rotate among them during the day. While I’m writing this post in my “office,” there are two sewing projects on the kitchen table ready to be cut out, bills to pay on the kitchen counter, and laundry to fold on the sofa. I’ve also got partially finished quilts on the ironing board ready to iron, music to practice in the living room, books to read and review – well, you get the idea. My house looks like a war zone, but that’s my way of coping with my aching back. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Unfortunately, most of my family doesn’t see things my way. And I have to agree that my jumbled way of coping leaves a lot to be desired. So, in answer to my original question, the ONE THING I would choose to be able to do again is to have the capacity to stay put long enough to start and complete a project.

Is there anything you used to do that you wish you could do again?

Posted in author's life, big plans, decisions, experiences, lifestyles, memories, musicians, Patricia Kiyono, Random thoughts, What if | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Guest: Author Jeanne Matthews

Today I am pleased to have as my guest Jeanne Matthews, best known for her Dinah Pelerin international mysteries.

 

Welcome, Jeanne!

We have only become Facebook Friends recently yet we had met before.  Jeanne, you probably don’t remember meeting me through someone else’s blog a few years ago, where I won the first Dinah Pelerin novel, Bones of Contention, but I am very glad that we reconnected!

So am I, Tonette.  Thanks for inviting me to Four Foxes, One Hound.  I hope you enjoyed Bones of Contention.  I had a lot of fun writing it.

 

You have had a varied career as a paralegal, a copywriter, and an English and drama teacher.  Did you write during your times working in those fields?

As a paralegal, I wrote deadly dull interrogatories and requests for production of documents.  My career as a copywriter required me to dream up words of extravagant praise for some pretty unglamorous things.  The Root Assassin Shovel. “For that special sort of digger…”

 

Were you more inspired to be creative as a teacher or did you do the inspiring?

Teaching is a collaborative experience.  You always hope you’ve instilled a love of language and reading in your students, but the inspiration flows both ways.  Every kid has a unique take on the world and some have amazing stories to tell. 

 

You now live in Washington state, across the country from Georgia where you were born and raised.  Despite your love of travel, do you miss where you grew up?

I think we all carry our hometown with us regardless how far we stray.  The South was formative for me and I’ve indulged my nostalgia by making my protagonist a Southerner.

 

Dinah Pelerin rather fell into becoming a world traveler and an amateur anthropologist by her life’s circumstances, but you, Jeanne, have traveled for pleasure.  Your interest in cultures, myths, and folklore comes out through your works.  Do you choose your travel destinations based on those interests, or do you become interested in the local cultures when you arrive in a new place?

When I first traveled to Australia, I had no idea that for 25 years after the defeat of the Nazis in WWII, the Australian government maintained a policy of eugenics designed to eradicate the Aboriginal population.  My interest in the “Stolen Generation” of Aborigine children became part of the plot of Bones of Contention[“The Rabbit-Proof Fence” with Kenneth Branagh tell is very well.]

My fascination with Hawaiian culture and myth began many years ago when I studied the hula and oral literature of Hawaii at the University of Hawaii. Native Hawaiians have a deep spiritual connection to the land.  The myth of the fire goddess Pele sprang from that intrinsic psychic connection.  Pele personified all things volcanic – the fire, the lava, the steam, and the new-formed land. At the time I wrote Bet Your Bones, Native Hawaiians were trying to reclaim title to their Crown Lands, seized when a group of American sugar planters overthrew their queen in 1893. 

I had read about the so-called “Doomsday” seed vault in the Norwegian Arctic before I ventured north to see it for myself.  What mystery writer wouldn’t be intrigued by a place where it is actually against the law to die?  It’s so cold that bodies don’t decompose in the permafrost and anyone who feels sick enough to die is advised to head south pronto so he can be buried in softer ground.  The political controversy over how to preserve the world’s agricultural heritage from rising seas, hurtling asteroids, and nuclear holocaust – not to mention agribusiness and bio-engineering – furnished a devil’s brew of motives for murder in the third book, Bonereapers.

Her Boyfriend’s Bones came about through sheer serendipity.  A lawyer I once worked for invited me to come and stay in his house on the Greek island of Samos where, he said somewhat ominously, “strange things happen.”  As I soon learned, “strange” didn’t begin to cover it.  The Greeks have a plethora of ancient myths and capricious gods and goddesses, but Samos has a serious modern-day problem of desperate (and sometimes dead) migrants washing up on their beaches.  I knew before I went about the former, but not the latter. [Oh, I want to hear more about the ‘former’ !-T]

Berlin is one of my favorite cities and a perfect backdrop for a murder mystery.  When I discovered that Germans are infatuated with American Indians, I was inspired.  Dinah’s trouble-prone mother is Native American and I immediately envisioned all manner of mayhem she might cause if she happened to visit. There are “der Indianer” clubs in Germany in which people dress as Indians, adopt Indian names, erect tepees in their back gardens, and hold powwows.  These clubs presented a variety of interesting characters and the re-introduction of Dinah’s mother provided a bridge to my first book.  After a blackmailer is murdered and scalped in a Berlin park, Dinah finally learns Where the Bones Are Buried

 

Your characters speak colorfully, use localisms and usually have decided accents.  Those can be difficult for many writers to impart to their readers.  Do you tend to pick up accents from people on your travels?  (Personally, I have to be very careful; I tend to pick up accents and speech patterns, whether in conversations or even from movies.)

You are right, Tonette.  It’s easy to pick up the local patois.  I try hard to differentiate the voices and speaking styles of my characters.  I fell in love with Aussie slang and Hawaiian pidgin English.  Wherever I go I like to settle in some inconspicuous spot and eavesdrop on the locals.  As for my Southern characters, my relatives keep me well supplied with colorful sayings.  Not every character speaks with a distinctive accent.  That would drive a reader crazy.  But with each of my settings, I’ve tried to convey some flavor of how people in that particular place talk and think.

 

The series is packed with cultural information.  Is it hard to choose how much to impart within your story to interest the reader and how much could become overload (or distract from the plot)?

Yes, there’s always a tension.  I regard “place” as a central character and to some extent my books are a kind of armchair travel.  Some cultural and political information forms the basis of the plots.  Humor is a good measuring stick for what to leave in and leave out.  Is a particular superstition or myth amusing?  Is it something that belongs in the mouth of a certain sort of character?  Does it give Dinah a chance to show her flippant and irreverent side?  I avoid “information dumps,” but strew tidbits of local lore fairly frequently.

 

All of your titles contain the word “Bones.”  Was that planned or has it just taken off by itself?

The word “Bones” in the title of the first and last book fits to a “t”.  The other titles came about at the suggestion of my publisher.  Unfortunately, Bones of Contention was sometimes confused with non-fiction works disputing the age and provenance of dinosaur bones.

How did you choose the name “Dinah Pelerin.”

“Dinah” is an old-timey Southern name and “Pelerin” is the French word for “pilgrim.”  I wanted the name to indicate that this character is on a journey.  Not only does she travel from place to place, but she is on a personal pilgrimage.  The first book might even be described as a coming of age story as Dinah seeks to understand her clouded history.  As she moves through the arc of the series, she continues on a pilgrimage in search of professional satisfaction and, just perhaps, a romantic partner she can trust.

 

Dinah shares many characteristics with you: being a native Georgian, love of travel and anthropology.  What else do you have in common?  What are your definite differences?

I think both Dinah and I have a subversive streak and a somewhat wry sense of humor.  The most obvious difference is that she’s young and footloose, with a propensity to take daredevil risks.  Me, I’m all about minding my head and looking both ways before I cross.  Maybe I’m a bit jealous of Dinah’s boldness.

 

Are you working or contemplating a new adventure for Dinah?

I left Dinah to get on with her life in Berlin while I work on a historical mystery set in Chicago just after the Civil War.  Even in 1867, it was quite “the toddlin’ town” as the song goes.  I’m enjoying the research and totally immersed in the city’s wild and woolly past.

 

Other than your very amusing and information-filled blog, do you do any other writing?  (I have been side-tracked reading through your past posts!)

I’m so pleased that my blogs have entertained you, Tonette.  I have a lot of fun writing about off-the-wall subjects – crime writers nominated for sainthood, the popularity of Scarlett O’Hara in North Korea, how people get “verbed.”  With so much weirdness in the world, it amazes me that anyone could ever be bored.

 

We will end with advice from one of your posts.  Will you share with our readers essentially what you wrote about celebrating along the path of writing/publishing a story?

I think you’re referring to a piece I wrote for Writer’s Digest.  I urged writers to celebrate every step of the writing process, from the first draft to the fortieth.  Writing a novel is one of the hardest things a person will ever do and being published is a huge accomplishment.  But there are ups and downs in every writer’s career.  If rejection comes, accept it as a badge of courage and keep on writing and improving your craft.  It’s important to enjoy the ride… and don’t stint on the champagne! 

 

Thank you so much for being our guest, Jeanne Matthews!

Please let our readers know how they can learn more about you and your works.

 

For more information about Jeanne’s books, check out her website

www.jeannematthews.com (which contains links to her blogs).  Books are available from Amazon, B & N, Poisoned Pen Press, and independent bookstores. You can also follow Jeanne on Twitter @JMmystery

 

Posted in America, author interview, author's life, authors, blogging, book covers, Books, careers, characters, decisions, dialogue, Guest, Guest author, history, imagination, inspiration, interview, jobs, Life, novels, phrases, teaching, Tonette Joyce | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

If You Think You Understand the Lusitania’s Sinking

… You may be completely wrong

By Jeff Salter

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (2016)
By Erik Larson

Being an avid student of history – and especially of military history – I’ve often prided myself on recognizing important people, places, battles, events, etc. All this time, I – like, I suspect, many of you – have assumed that one of the key incidents that finally propelled America into active military participation in World War One was the May 1915 sinking of the British passenger liner, Lusitania. In this tragedy, hundreds of civilian lives were lost, including many women and children… and, significantly for the coming U.S. involvement in the war — Americans.

dead-wake-1

There is much I want to say about this author and his book, but first let me get a few Lusitania facts out of the way.

*** America’s declaration of war against Germany did NOT result immediately from this sinking and, in fact, didn’t occur until some 23 months later (April, 1917). President Wilson had campaigned on a pledge to keep America out of that “European” war and most of the nation’s citizens supported that position.

*** Of the 1959 passengers and crew aboard Lusitania at the time of her sinking, 1195 lost their lives. Of that number were 139 US citizens, 128 of whom died in the disaster. As tragic as ALL those losses were, it was a comparatively small number of Americans who were among the dead.

*** I’m not making any excuses for ANY nation to attack unarmed merchant or passenger vessels, even in war-time… BUT Germany had, in fact, published warnings – including advertisements in American papers – that their submarines WOULD attack any vessel entering the zone of their embargo of Great Britain. So this was not a “sneak attack” in the sense of no warning. In fact, many other merchant vessels (including passenger ships) had already been sunk by U-Boats before the Lusitania even sailed on her final voyage.

*** England had, in full operation, an ultra secret “intelligence” department that not only followed almost ALL of Germany’s military and diplomatic radio traffic but specifically kept tabs on all their U-Boats and capital ships. They were already particularly interested in U-20, partly because of the tonnage it had sunk and also because of the area it was currently patrolling.

*** Partly in order to preserve the secrecy of that “intelligence” unit, its leaders elected NOT to share any of their information… and specifically NOT to send any warning to the Lusitania that a notorious U-Boat was in the immediate area. Furthermore, those powerful British leaders chose NOT to send out any military ships to escort Lusitania through the dangerous waters of the embargo zone.

*** The captain of the Lusitania – at the time, the fastest ocean-going liner in the world – had NOT been trained in U-Boat evasion. It was assumed the ship was simply too fast for the much slower (and smaller) U-Boats to properly attack. Ironically, in order to save on fuel costs for this voyage, Lusitania was operating only three of its four boilers — thereby reducing its top speed by 25%.

*** NO lifeboat drills were conducted, NO instructions on how to wear the life jackets were provided (and, after the attack, many passengers put them on upside-down!). [Remember, this was nearly three years AFTER the sinking of the Titanic.] Very few of the lifeboats were successfully launched. Contrary to established protocol, many (or most) of the portholes were left open.

*** Yes, the Lusitania WAS carrying cargo which included ammunition – intended for Great Britain’s use during their battles against Germany… BEFORE America formerly entered the war. But there is no evidence that the munitions caused that “secondary explosion” which was – at the time – thought by some to be a second torpedo. It wasn’t. Only a single torpedo was fired by U-20. The second explosion dealt with the boilers and the fuel (coal) and the design of Lusitania’s pertinent compartments.

*** The German captain of U-20 was already a top ace before his patrol that included the sinking of Lusitania. In WW1, Germany’s U-Boat fleet was armed with two types of torpedoes and the less reliable of these was the type that sank Lusitania.

*** There was NO mistake – by Capt. Walther Schwieger – about the identity of the passenger liner he viewed through his periscope. Not only were the paint, markings, and four-stack profile of Lusitania quite distinct, but the German naval leaders knew when Lusitania had sailed, where it was going, and when it would enter the patrol area of U-20.

*** the Lusitania was attacked and sunk a mere 11 miles from the coast of Ireland, yet the closest British military ships were NOT sent immediately to its aid. One reason given was that British military leaders knew it would jeopardize their own ships to send them into waters known to have U-Boats.

The Author

Wow, I could tell y’all a lot more I learned from this fantastic book, but let me turn now to the author. Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers, which have collectively sold more than 6.5 million copies. His books have been published in seventeen countries.

This is the third of Larson’s titles that I’ve read — see the other titles below. In each of these books, in a masterful manner, Larson switches back and forth between two or more settings. In this one, it’s among (1) the crew and passengers of the Lusitania, (2) the captain and movements of U-20, (3) the ultra secret British intelligence unit that was tracking all German military activity, (4) the British political and military leaders who were “managing” the war prior to America’s direct involvement, and (5) American President Wilson’s personal and political comings and goings.

Even though I knew the outcome of the story – that the ship was sunk at tremendous loss of life – Larson’s ability to develop and maintain dramatic suspense actually had me “hoping” that Lusitania would somehow pull through. He accomplishes this, in part, by acquainting us with the names and faces of the passengers on board. By the time we get through those seven long days of sea travel, we’re wondering which individuals would survive and which would be lost to the deep. And each reader may have a favorite passenger he/she is rooting for (to survive).

If anyone has ever claimed that history is dull, that individual should be given a copy of Larson’s non-fiction or Jeff Shaara’s historical novels (which I’ve previously profiled on this blog). These authors – among many others, of course – truly make history come to life.

Other Larson Titles I’ve read and enjoyed

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America  (2004).

This one intertwines the true tale of the development of the 1893 World’s Fair (in Chicago) and the cunning serial killer – H.H. Holmes, the “American Ripper” – who used that venue to lure his victims to their death.

Thunderstruck (2007).

In this one, Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men – Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer – and Guglielmo Marconi… the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication (the wireless). We also meet the primary British detective who is hot on the trail of the killer. How their lives intersect makes one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Question:

What historical events have you recently learned about… that gave you new insights about what happened?

[JLS # 449]

Posted in America, authors, book review, favorite books, history, Jeff Salter, non-fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Review: The Flip

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00033]

Blurb:

Andrew and Sonnet hated each other in high school. Always rivals for the best grades and top academic honors, there was no love lost between these two nerds after graduation.

Ten years later, they’ve both been named heirs to property in Bethany Beach, Delaware, after the passing of its owner, Penelope Vaughn. Ms. Vaughn was Andrew’s Great Aunt and Sonnet’s beloved next door neighbor growing up.

The quaint beach cottage needs serious work before going on the market. Andrew and Sonnet are both willing to bury the hatchet in exchange for drills and saws, especially since they stand to make a pretty penny with the beachfront property, which will finance Drew’s dream of opening a business and Sonnet’s plan to earn her doctorate in astrophysics.

But when they face a multitude of home improvement obstacles, will these two former adversaries be able to pull off a successful flip? Or did Great Aunt Penny have something else in mind with her bequest?

My Review:

The Flip is a smart, well-written, romantic comedy. A great deal of the humor in the book comes from the differences between the two main characters. Sonnet is determined and focused. Andrew not so much. Add to the mix that they were enemies during this childhood and high school days, and you have the recipe for potential fireworks. I found myself rooting for them and hoping they’d find their way which they did. I thought the supporting cast was also very well done, especially the neighbor who never could get their names right. The ending was intriguing to me. It ended the way it had to, but it was something of a surprise for me in a good way. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Posted in book review, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 3 Comments