In the beginning...

...there were The Flyaways, a family who traveled in their miraculous flying machine having daring adventures with Goldilocks and Cinderella. The first in the 3-book series by Alice Dale Hardy was published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1925 and copies are almost extinct. Few people remember Ma and Pa, Tommy and Susie Flyaway now.

I became acquainted with them on my grandfather's lap, my dear Grandpa Baker who read and read and read to me every evening for as many years as I can remember. I would hold my breath as each chapter ending neared, hoping he would not stop. I would keep begging for "just one more" chapter until his voice got so hoarse I would have to run to his room to get his throat lozenges.

Over the years we covered all of Uncle Wiggly and Honey Bunch, the Bobbsey Twins, the Five Little Peppers, the Wind in the Willow series, some of them more than once. He read to me until long after I could read everything for myself, until I was into Beverly Gray, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I was safe and happy snuggled up on the couch with him and that feeling has never left me. I still read and read and read, and it still makes me feel safe and happy.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Apes and other animals

APE HOUSE by Sara Gruen
Gruen, who wrote the wonderful Water for Elephants, has proved that she is not a one-book wonder. This well researched novel about the language studies being done with bonobos (great apes) is fascinating and well plotted. The exploitation of the animals is heart wrenching and the descriptions of their lives and interactions is amazing and touching.

I, ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
Patterson annoys me by churning out books “with” so many other writers (which I won’t read just for the principle of it) but I can get into a good ol’Alex Cross on occasion. Somehow Patterson manages to make grisly subject s, e.g. Cross’ lovely niece chopped up in a wood chipper, palatable. And, perhaps another dear family member will not live to the end of the episode. I won’t spoil it for you. It is a fast read.

DOG TAGS by David Rosenfelt
I just love these dog-involved crime stories. Andy Carpenter is a great character, as are Willie, Stanton, Laurie and others. Love Tara the golden, of course, and in this one Milo and Billy. Rosenfelt has a great writing style and treats his subjects much more gently than, for example Jeffery Deaver.

COMPULSIVE HOARDING and the meaning of things
by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee
Interesting case studies which include the Collyer brothers (of Marcia Davenport renown and one of my teenage favorites) and sheds some light on the psychology.

****STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova
This was a weeper for me. A 50-year-old Harvard professor loses her mind to Alzheimer’s in a painful journey that she herself documents. I am impressed with the author’s ability to see Alice and her disease from the inside out. I am also frightened for my future.

STAR ISLAND by Carl Hiaasen
Insanity reigns in this new Hiaasen Florida adventure, complete with the crazy former governor now known as Skink and an assortment of absurd characters - papparazi, bodyguards, agents and parents – whose lives revolve around a drug and booze addicted young rock star. Cherry Pye, formerly known as Cheryl Bunterman, can’t sing and passes out sexual favors indiscriminately, teetering hourly on the brink of disaster. Sounds eerily reflective of today’s rock scene.

ROLLING THUNDER by Chris Grabenstein
Very readable story about SHPD officers John Ceepak and Danny Boyle embroiled in a seaside murder and sex ring in their small tourist town.

SAVAGES by Don Winslow
Anti-heroes “Stan” vet Chon and “save the world” Ben are major marijuana growers who resist a bloody takeover by the Baja Cartel and try to rescue their shared girlfriend O. This guy has a different approach to dialogue. Short, choppy, dangling sentences. Somehow thoughtful in a violent way. Supposed to be a hot author.

This was a surprise. First, this story had no villains, which is way out of the ordinary for me. Second, it was labeled Christian Fiction, which I would have avoided had I noticed it. Turned out to be a good story of two strangers stranded in the wilderness after a small plane crash. It was a page turner with a twisted and touching ending.

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