Posts tagged with Books Alaska China

Bevy’s Book Blog

I read a LOT. Books are like crack to me - I can't go a day without my fix. I read on my breaks and lunch hour at work every day. I read in the bathroom at times - even in the bathTUB at times. I have been known to walk down the sidewalk with a book in my hands. Every day at work someone gives me a hard time about walking and reading. This past week I read three books in their entirety, as well as making progress on a fourth that I started some time back. All of this is a prelude to why I'm starting this blog. Folks keep telling me that I should blog about the books I read. So, here goes. I will write some about what I've read this week, and in later blogs I will cover some favorites from the past.

For the most part I read mysteries - both "cozies" and police procedural types. But sometimes I delve into other genres. This past week I revisited a favorite mystery author to fill in some of her series that I had missed, but also read a nature book and part of an adventure novel set in China. So, here goes. Last week's reading:

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, by Sam Keith from the journals of Richard Proenneke.

I became interested in this book after seeing the documentary "Alone in the Wilderness" on PBS. It follows Dick Pronneke as he embarks upon his life's dream - to build a cabin and live far away from civilization, alone, in Alaska. The film is mesmerizing. Proenneke was an unusual combination of master craftsman, wildlife photographer, poet, and adventurer. His writings are used verbatim in much of the narration of the film. (I got a copy at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library.) Watching the footage that he shot of himself working to build his cabin using nothing but hand tools and incredible craftsmanship never gets old. But there was more I wanted to know, and the book provided that knowledge.

The book is simply Pronneke's journal of his first year, plus added commentary and photographs. I read it in one day - breaks, lunch, and an hour or so in the evening. Some of the most interesting stories didn't make it into the film. For example, the story of the day when a bear came up the front path to Dick's cabin, tried climbing on the roof and scared him half to death. This book is a great read for anyone who is interested in nature, craftsmanship, adventure, etc. I highly recommend both it and the film. We have watched it over and over, and I would read the book again also.

Chile Death, by Susan Wittig Albert This is one of the fabulous series featuring China Bayles, a former high-powered defense attorney who gave up her legal career to open an herb shop in the small (fictional) town of Pecan Springs, Texas. I am a small-town girl myself, and really appreciate the characters that Albert has used to populate Pecan Springs. This book centers around the annual Chili Cookoff. In addition to a great mystery plot with plenty of action and twists and turns, the author provides history, insights and recipes about chiles (the peppers) and chili (the five-alarm kind.) I don't like spicy food, but I love this author's writing style. The stories are smart, well-plotted and very engaging. Once I start one, I can never put it down until it's done.

Holly Blues, by Susan Wittig Albert Another fantastic story in the China Bayles series. This one is set at Christmas, and holly references are liberally sprinkled throughout. The story begins when China's husband Mike's ex-wife gets off the bus in Pecan Springs, running from some BIG trouble. Perhaps because she is feeling the Holiday spirit, China agrees to let the woman stay in their home. Everything goes downhill from there. Three murders (one that occurred twenty years before) and a mysterious man who stalks her houseguest leave China worried and perplexed. Luckily China has help from both her friend Ruby and her husband Mike. Another winner in a series that has yet to disappoint.

Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay This story intrigued me because of my interest in Chinese culture and its interesting premise. I took a Chinese history course in college and have been fascinated ever since. This novel begins with a young man who agrees to go and live near a battlefield where 40,000 men were killed a couple of years before, to bury the bones of the dead. He does this as a sort of homage/penance for his father, who had died a couple of years after the battle. The battlefield itself is a kind of no-man's land between two nations. Peace has been achieved through a marriage between the two royal families. Each side brings supplies to the young man in payment for his work. I am not too far along yet, so will write more about this one later. But it is extremely interesting so far.