Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And Still More Book Reports

Finishing catching up on the most interesting things I've read lately.
  • Better Than Homemade by Carolyn Wyman: Extremely enjoyable little essays about the origins of such American staples as Instant Breakfast, Minute Maid, Wonder Bread, Velveeta. A quick read that takes us down memory lane to a time when we weren't guilt-wracked over what we ate ... well, except to want it to be more nutritious or technologically modern. Oh, those were the days.

  • The Trials of Rumpole by John Mortimer: I haven't picked these up for years but vastly enjoyed revisiting John Mortimer's turn of phrase which so eloquently draws a portrait of Rumpole and his trials both in court and in personal life. I had forgotten until rereading these that there are always two to three plots in each story, no small feat. The main trail, office politics, and home life all have a linked theme and yet each can stand on its own, often in a humorous way. If you haven't ever read one of the Rumpole books, then do give them a try. You needn't read them in order, although there is character development from book to book of friends and coworkers (and even of villains defended, like the Timson family). Hannah is reading the Rumpole books for the first time and working her way through the entire series, so we know they hold up well no matter your age.

  • Hamlet - Arkangel audio performance: Inspired by Chop Bard podcast, I checked this out of the library and was blown away listening to this excellent audio version of the play. Between the two resources of the podcast and audio performance I was on the edge of my seat and truly loved this play. (Read Thomas L. MacDonald's review of Arkangel Shakespeare.)

  • Roots of the Faith: From the Church Fathers to You by Mike Aquilina: I would do a full blown review of this but, thanks to David Scott, I actually sold it to Pittsburgh Catholic. It will not appear online so go buy one of their papers! Here's the quick version. Roots of the Faith takes a "time travel" look at some very familiar Catholic concepts like the Mass, confession, and teachings against abortion and then goes back to see what the early Christians actually practiced and believed. How does he know? The Church Fathers, of course, wrote a lot of it down and if there's something we can count on Mike for, it is knowing what the Church Fathers said about things. This is highly practical and something we can use when coming up against those folks who think the Catholic Church has changed everything around from the way it was in the early days of the Church. An excellent book - highly recommended.

  • Through the Wall by Cleveland Moffett: A noted detective is getting ready to go to Brazil for an important job. He drops by Notre Dame where a young woman he never met says a few sentences to him that leave him pale and canceling his trip. A young woman, deeply in love, spurns her lover's marriage proposal because she loves him too much. A international celebrity is found mysteriously killed in a variation of the locked room mystery. All these events are connected and are set in 1909 Paris, where the atmosphere is romantic and mysterious and the art of detective investigation is very much to the fore in the story. This was on a list from Michael Grost's list for Mystery Scene magazine of classic mysteries that you should read but probably haven't. Here is a piece about this book which I believe was written in 1907. It is a locked room mystery, which I normally do not like, but the way the author slowly uncovers layers truth behind the mysterious situations is already very apparent. It has the effect of a book of one cliff-hanger after another and I am hooked. Final word: what a splendid plot and story telling. Truly this is the story of a master detective pitted against a master criminal, all wound around a tale of love and friendship. I got this from the library but I'd bet it is available free at Project Gutenberg. I plan on  reading this on Forgotten Classics.

  • Carnacki: The Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson: Whenever Carnacki finishes a tough case of tracking down the supernatural he calls together his three friends to have dinner at their London club and tells them the story. Sometimes he discovers the supernatural, sometimes a hoax, and occasionally an intriguing mix of the two. Thus we get seven fine ghost tales from William Hope Hodgson who is better known for The House on the Border Land, which I have never read, but surely shall someday. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I picked up from Amazon for free and read on the Kindle. I would look at Project Gutenberg for it as a free public-domain book if you can't find it anywhere.

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