Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice (2009)

Just picked this up and enjoyed this story of the closeness of sisters, and what happens when they are separated. The "geometry" related to one of the young sisters, who was a wiz in math and could see the math in everything. Hopefully will expand on this.

March by Geraldine Brooks (2005)

I am now convinced that this was the March that someone once recommended. I read another The March by Doctrow that was also about the Civil War, and OK, but not like this. Brooks never ceases to amaze me. I kept putting of reading it, as I knew it wasn't going to be an easy read. March is the fictional character, the father of the girls in Little Women. We see him writing home and remembering his war time years, and his youth, when he wandered around the South selling things. Brooks manages to touch on so many essential aspects of that war.

I was thankful that she explained the types of things she looked at for her research and what was real (descriptions of specific battles) and what was imagined. I loved that we saw numerous real historical figures like Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Brown (I read another book about him not too long ago.) The whole abolitionist movement is much clearer to me now.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Art of Dale Chihuly by Tijothy Anglin Burgard 92008)

I saw the cover of this book on the display wall of our library, so I went and found it. This was the book published for an exhibition of Chihuly in San Francisco in 2008. As Chihuly is one of my favorite contemporary artists, I thought it was time to read up on him some more, though I have read some shorter pieces, seen videos, and combed the Chihuly Web site. This gave a nice overview of his career with explanations of his communal studio methods and his various styles - Navajo blanket cylinders, baskets, seaforms, Macchia, Persians, Venetians, Ikebana, Niijima floats, and chandeliers. It was the chandeliers that totally blew me away when I first saw them in the Milwaukee art museum, and his exhibit of them throughout Venice I thought was one of the most brilliant installalations (in picutres) I had ever seen. Up until now I had less appreciation of some of his other forms, though I have enjoyed all of his exhibits I have seen (Kalamazoo Institute of Art & Meijer Gardens) plus individual pieces I have seen in other museums. I had never seen his work with neon pieces, and the Saffron tower looked amazing.

The photos in this book were just exquisite. I looked through them numerous times and just sighed over the colors, the lighting, the combinations. Just had to look for Chihuly's exhibits and found that there is one coming up in Flint of his seaforms starting in June. Will try to go.

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On reading in spurts

I recently had a conversation with a woman who only reads when she is on vacation or has a whole day free, so she can read continually. She didn't understand how I could listen to books in short spurts commuting to work, driving around doing errands. Maybe I was like that at one point, but I would never get any reading done if I had to wait for a free day. I have definitely gotten into absorbing books in short spurts - both reading and listening, even doing multiple books at a time - at least two - one that I listen to in the car and at least one I am reading at home. Recently I even was listening to more than one book at a time. Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded was just too intense to listen too continually, so I would do one or two CD's of that and then listen to a few CD's of some fiction.

The Law of Love by Nora Roberts (2009)

Two of her Silhouette romances: Lawless (1989) and The Law is a Lady (1984). I recently read up on Roberts and found out she had started writing for Silhouette books and even after she started writing full length books, she sometimes likes to return to these shorter versions, good for a quick read by a busy mother. I also found out she writes 8 hours a day, even writing on vacations. I don't get her obsession with writing. I am sure she has no more financial concerns, so why be writing constantly, unless that is what she really likes to do. The other interesting fact I came upon, was that she researches most of her settings on the Internet, because she doesn't like to fly. She does visit Ireland, which is probably why her Irish books are so compelling, but I have found most of her other settings quite believable too - so she knows how to research.

Both of these books were about the West - Arizona in particular. Lawless was an historical story about a refined young woman Sarah Conway, who heads out West to be with her father, who is working a gold mine out there. She shows up finding that her father has died in the mine, and the large house he described was still a fantasy, and that all he had was a small cabin by the mine, but she finds her inner grit and perseveres, learning new skills and making friends in the small forgotten town. Jake Redman, a half Apache, listless man is fascinated by Sarah and keeps showing up just when she needs some help. Of course there is the slimy gentleman, who tries to win Sarah's hand, but she finds she is much more attracted to Jake. I kinda like the way this relationship played out, and I definitely liked the strong character of Sarah.

The Law is a Lady was set in present day Arizona, where Victoria is a lawyer temporarily the sheriff of the small town of Friendly, filling in for her sheriff father, who has died unexpectedly. Phil Kincaid is a Hollywood movie director looking for a small forgotten town as the setting for his latest film. I liked the way these two played off each other, and this book was full of other characters and situations - hapless deputy Merle, abused kid Tod, troublesome twins, distance with Victoria's mother, the daily grind of making a movie. So all in all a good read. I also liked that the love scenes were set in unusual places - a pond, hayloft, police cruiser. My only complaint is that I caught Roberts on a couple of very unrealistic details. As romantic as a hayloft may sound, hay and straw are very itchy and uncomfortable, and no way can a comfortable romp be had without a blanket to cushion it. Similarly with the car - OK, most of us have made out in cars, but do you remember how uncomfortable that was, and to spend a whole night? Maybe Roberts just hasn't tried these variations herself.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Split Second by David Baldacci (2003)

This is the first book of the King and Maxwell series, where Sean King and Michele Maxwell have both worked for the Secret Service, but both have lost the presidential candidates they are supposed to be guarding. Their situations and lives intertwine, as they both work at solving the mysteries of what really happened. I liked both characters, but I have to say things got confusing, as I was listening to this book on a long ride. Way too many characters and variables, but still a fun read.

Immortal in Death by JD Robb (1996)

In keeping with wanting to read these Lt. Eve Dallas futuristic murder mysteries in order, and needing keep me awake books for the drive to Florida and back, I re-listened to this. Eve is getting married to Roarke in this one. Mavis meets Leonardo. This is where we get the back story to Somerset, which I missed the first time around. Somerset was another con and had a daughter a bit younger than Roarke, who got killed. Seems Somerset was somewhat a father figure to Roarke, but we don't get when the roles switched. Eve remembers the details of her horrid childhood. The story - a model gets murdered and the main suspect is Eve's friend Mavis. This book has four dead bodies before Eve figures things out.