Sunday, March 25, 2012

Books - Quarter 1

I'm off to a steady start with my reading list.  Even though the quarter isn't technically over yet, I am only half-way through my current read, so I won't be finishing it this week because I'm putting in a lot of time knitting the Seafoam Lace Scarf from last week's post.

Here is what I have so far....

1.  I started reading this in December and only just finished it in February.  This is the second book in the yarn series by DM (first book was The Shop on Blossom Street).  In a nutshell, women who have something going on in their lives (divorce, reluctant reunion with an ex-husband, overweight teen starting in a new high school & a bad break-up) join a knitting class at the yarn store on Blossom Street.  This class brings these unlike women together to form a lasting friendship.  I chose this book because I had read the first one and because the class they took was a sock knitting class.  Remember, I was knitting my own socks about the time I started this book (which, I still need to finish...)
It was enjoyable, but a bit slow.  I give it 2.5 thumbs up.

2.  I bought this book at the library sale because it looked interesting; I had never heard of this author before.  Apparently in 2008, this was a best seller.  The author wrote this book while he was in medical school, during his residency.  You quickly see the sort of thing they teach you in med school/working in the ER, in the first few pages of the book.  It goes into detail about how he dislocates a mugger's elbow in the parking garage.  Basically, the doctor in this book is an intern at a hospital in New York and his past reveals that he used to be a hit man for the mob, where he is now in Witness Protection.  He runs into a patient who knew him in his past life and now the intern must outrun the mob guys that are now trying to kill him.  This novel is very graphic with blood and body-related medical tricks that he uses to get him out of precarious situations.  I would say this is a high intensity read and I recommend it.  It even has it's own website with a game (BeatTheReaper).  I give it 3 thumbs up.

3. Here is a book that I came across at a yard sale and I couldn't not buy.  The Nancy Drew series is what got me into loving reading in the first place.  Originally published in November 1930, this book has sold over 2.7 million copies as of 2001.  Rereading this book as an adult, I still find it stimulating.  Yeah, it is written for young readers, but so was Harry Potter and Twilight.
This book introduces Nancy as an 18 year old that gets interested in a case that her hometown of River Heights is upset over when an inheritance of a recently deceased townsman was willed to a very snobby and social-climbing family.  Nancy and others do not believe that the heirs are truly these people and goes in search of a newer will that must exist.  I really did not remember any of the details from when I read this book at the age of 10, so it was very nostalgic to reread it again.  I will always love my Nancy Drew stories.  Fun-fact: Carolyn Keene was just a pen name given to the variety of ghostwriters that wrote the stories.  There was up to 11 different writers.  I give it 4 thumbs up.

4. This is the first book in a mystery series.  It takes place in the year 1900 in Indiana, when houses still had servants and maids.  The head maid, who is the main character, Hilda, finds a dead body in the lilac bushes.  The person is unrecognizable due to the gruesomeness of the crime.  You soon learn that it was an affluent neighbor's sister who has just returned from China.  This novel takes you back to a time where servants were not seen as equal, so Hilda has to sneak around to solve this murder.  The police are corrupt and her friends and family thinks she is crazy for trying to help.  She gets herself into several sticky situations but eventually solves the murder and is able to keep her job.  I thought that the ending and conclusion were rushed.  I was on the last two pages of the book where the conclusion came together, then the book just ended.  It was still enjoyable, though.  I have the third book in the series so I might as well read it to get it off my bookshelf.  A funny note about this book: it takes place in a section of IN called South Bend and that was a crossword clue in my daily newspaper the other day.  It said to name the school in South Bend; which there is a scene where Hilda walks across town to Notre Dame to gather clues.  If I was not reading this novel, I would not have known that!  I give it 2.5 thumbs up.

So, apparently, you can learn life lessons reading fictional stories.  Let's go over what I have learned:
  1. I can make friends by joining a knit class.  Well, not always true.  Some women that visit yarn stores on a regular basis tend to form a clique and not welcome you right away.  I don't want to offend anyone by saying that, but I find that to be true in my neck of the woods.  In MA, the Wool Patch was very open to my friend and I when we went a few times to the Thursday Sit N Knit.  So, not every shop is like that.  Take away lesson:  you can't be shy when you go in...just act like you know yarn and talk to those ladies about their projects and you'll do fine.
  2. I can make weapons out of my own bones, if I do not pass out from the pain first.  Yes, in the Reaper novel, that is just what the main character had to do to save his life.  I would pass out at the sight of my own blood, never mind having to actually cut myself deep enough.  So, that lesson is not that practical.
  3. That riding around in a convertible is way cooler than a regular car and it does not cause any extra attention to you when you are tailing bad guys.  Hmmm, I always found this funny that an 18 year old drives a convertible and nobody thinks this would stick out.  Yes, Nancy Drew's father is a lawyer, but back in 1930, wasn't convertibles really expensive?  I also learned that a closet clothing rod can be used as a lever to pry a locked door from it's hinges when you are trapped inside.  I will try to remember that the next time I break into an old house to find a clock. (psst, the will was hidden in the clock)
  4. Finally, I can pick a lock with the stays in my corset.  Well, I wear an underwire bra these days, so I guess that would be the next best thing.  Picking locks sounds fun, but I'm not sure if I have the patience to do it under pressure.  I will rip apart one of my old bras and try breaking into my own house.  I'll report back later.
These are valuable lessons that I may need to reflect on in the future.  So don't ever think that reading novels is a waste of time.  If you are reading anything now or have just finished one, please share what it is you have learned, however unpractical.

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