Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reading log, May 2010

Trying to keep this updated in a timely fashion!

31. Murder at Longbourn – 3 – Tracy Kiely – sort of cute mystery, not great. Lots of red herrings, some funny moments, but on the whole, pretty unbelievable.

32. The People of Sparks – 3.5 – Dupree – sequel to The City of Ember – read aloud with the older boys.

33. And the Shofar Blew – 4.75 – Francine Rivers – read for book club – story of a pastor who takes over a dying church with elderly congregation and turns it into a mega church, and loses his way. Very telling about seeker-friendly churches, etc.

34. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – 4.75 – Jacqueline Kelly – excellent story of an 11 year old girl – Calpurnia – living in Texas in 1899. She wants to be a naturalist and study science; while her family expects her to spend her time learning to knit, tat, cook, etc. She is nurtured by the relationship with her grandfather, who lives with them. He is one of the founding members of National Geographic Society, and teaches her how to be a naturalist, to study and make scientific observations of the world around her. Her “evolution” is her growing and discovering what she wants to do for herself. It does ties in with the naturalist studies of Charles Darwin, but there is no indoctrination in his origins of man. It is more about his work as a naturalist. Her grandfather does upset her mother by wanting to discuss what the fossil record means to the Book of Genesis with dinner guests, but discussing ideas should certainly be allowed! All in all, if you can get past any predjudices against seeing Charles D.’s name anywhere, it is a wonderful story. Calpurnia reminds me of Flavia de Luce, but without the edge – she is a naturalist, not a chemist, and doesn’t have Flavia’s fascination with poisons.
35. The God of the Hive – 4.5 – Laurie R. King – the newest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery. This was an immediate sequel to the last (which came out a year ago!) so it was hard to get back into the storyline. It was okay, not as good as the others. Mary and Sherlock were apart for about 90% of the book, and that is what I like best – the interaction between them. That is what makes the whole story. So anyway, that’s where we leave off – hopefully it won’t take her another year to write the next one!

36. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones – 3.75 – Alexander McCall Smith – next in the 44 Scottland Street series. It was okay. I’ve liked others better. This one had a lot of dull points. The last two were really good, so maybe this just suffers by comparison.

37. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – 4.5 – Rebecca Skloot – excellent non-fiction – in 1951 Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman from Baltimore – died of cervical cancer. Before she died the doctor took samples of her tumor, and grew a cell line from them. This cell line, named HeLa, continued (and still continues) to grow and has been used in every imaginable sort of experiment, developing medications and vaccines, testing the effects of space travel and nuclear weapons. Her children, who were basically uneducated and poverty-stricken - did not find out until 20 years later. It is the story of Henrietta and her family, and what happened when the world found out who the HeLa cells came from and how it affected their family. Usually this would not appeal to me, but it was a fascinating story from page 1. Highly recommend.

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