Bookish Facts

Bookish Fact #6: My dad made me a history lover.

I am lucky in that both of my parents are readers. My mom prefers fiction and reads a lot of mysteries. My dad loves historical nonfiction. My mom may have been the driving force behind my love of reading, but Dad was just as influential on my reading tastes.

We only had one TV growing up, and evenings meant watching things together as a family. The channels were often tuned to a baseball game or some random educational program (How stuff Works, Myth Busters). Dad’s favorite was The History Channel…back went the programming was actually about history.

His favorites were the history of the military, baseball, the space race, industry, and of course aviation. (I happily admit that I adore all these topics as well) We went to museums as a family on a regular basis. He’s sat through hours of me retelling my lessons learned in my college history courses. And to this day he still calls me with book recommendations and requests.

My parents are the reason my nieces and nephews get books for gifts, because can anything really beat the gift of a good story? Have your parents, or some other awesome person, influenced your reading this way? Please share!

Lindsay

Advertisements

Second Quarter Update/Midyear Check-in

I have decided to do numbered quarterly updates instead of using the seasons. It’s just hard to call this a Spring Update when the heat index has been over 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) the last week. So here is my update for the second quarter of the year; these are the books I finished in April, May, and June.

TOTAL: 7

I struggled with my reading this quarter. I have stack of books about 15 deep that I started and just couldn’t get into to finish. I am going to blame this funk of trying to recover from surgery and the stress of changes at work. I’m hoping to double my number in the next quarter.

Mystery: 4

 

Nonfiction: 3

Reread: 1

boe

The best part of this quarter is that I really enjoyed everything I read. I am happy at the number of nonfiction books I sailed through and I hope to keep that nonfiction momentum going through the rest of the year. I am also hoping to at least double the number of books I read next quarter.

Mid-Year Goals Check-in

Total Books Read

Goal: 50       Current: 16

Nonfiction Books Read

Goal: 12      Current: 5

I’m already working on my TBR for the next quarter. Let me know what books you plan to read this summer!

Lindsay

Hatchet

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

H

Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.

I’m not going to provide a summary because the above synopsis does a pretty good job. Plus, I feel like Hatchet is an American classic; if you haven’t read it you’ve probably still heard of it.

Surprisingly, I had not read Hatchet before last year. This is odd as I adore Julie of the Wolves and read My Side of the Mountain as a pre-teen. And I’ve read pretty much every book written by Bill Wallace. I have no idea why I never read Hatchet, but my husband and I decided to remedy that and listened to the audiobook during our annual holiday road trip.

Hatchet was fantastic. For those who don’t know, my husband and I are both pilots and minimalist campers. I have been flying for most of my life and M is really good at survival style camping. Paulsen’s descriptions of the flight (and subsequent crash) are spot on, obviously written by someone with aviation experience. Brian’s successes, and failures, at survival are also quite realistic. Paulsen provides exquisitely detailed descriptions that pull the reader through the story, and Hatchet is a fantastic example of solid character development. It’s a ‘coming of age’ story that was actually enjoyable, without the pages upon pages of teenage angst that now represents the genre standard.

The only ‘negative’ point is there are some pretty gruesome moments as Brian survives the plane crash, multiple injuries, a moose attack, and a tornado. The book is not for the faint of heart and there are a number of people I wouldn’t recommend it to because the well written passages would leave them terrified of small aircraft and the great outdoors. This is not necessarily a fault against the book, just a point audiences need to be aware of.

Hatchet holds up as a classic survival story and I personally think it needs to remain as standard reading for preteens…especially as society forgets the skills of basic survival. I feel like its a book for any season, and look forward to picking it up again.

Does anyone else love Hatchet? What are your favorite survival stories? (I have so many on my list!)

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

Frozen in Time

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

by Mitchell Zuckoff

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II

Frozen in Time is a gripping true story of survival, bravery, and honor in the vast Arctic wilderness during World War II, from the author of New York Times bestseller Lost in Shangri-La.

On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished.

Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter, until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen brought them to safety. Mitchell Zuckoff takes the reader deep into the most hostile environment on earth, through hurricane-force winds, vicious blizzards, and subzero temperatures.

Moving forward to today, he recounts the efforts of the Coast Guard and North South Polar Inc. – led by indefatigable dreamer Lou Sapienza – who worked for years to solve the mystery of the Duck’s last flight and recover the remains of its crew.

A breathtaking blend of mystery and adventure Mitchell Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II is also a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of our military personnel and a tribute to the everyday heroism of the US Coast Guard.

Frozen in Time is a fantastic story of survival that everyone needs to read. There. I said it. Read this book now!

But I guess I should give you an actual review 😜. Zuckoff’s writing is descriptive and engaging. His words pulled me right into the story, making it difficult to turn off my audiobook when I had reached my destination. Zuckoff expertly shares details about each individual, leaving you feeling as if each is an old friend and desperately yearning to know their fate. Any aviation lover will adore this story as much of the book is also dedicated to the aircraft utilized by these men, specifically a B-17 Flying Fortress and a Grumman Duck. I’m not lying when I say I was almost as concern for the aircraft as I was for the men aboard.

The survival story of these men is so unbelievable that you will have to keep reminding yourself this is not fiction. This ACTUALLY happened. The retelling of physical and mental suffering, small acts of kindness, and unhesitating acts of self sacrifice left me in tears of awe on a number of occasions. Guys, I’m not ashamed to admit that i’m crying writing this review. These men were willing to do anything to save each other, and didn’t blink an eye at the danger of losing their own lives. It is a wonderful testament to the courageous actions of men of the Army, Army Aircorp, and Coast Guard!

My only negative thoughts concern the modern aspects of the story, where the author joins an exhibition team in search of locating the lost Grumman Duck. I have no complaints about the writing, which continued to be excellent, but instead found myself irritated by the people involved with the search. Spoilers folks! This part of the novel was fraught with petty squabbles, poor planning, and constant chaos. I spent a few years doing field work and these passages left my eye twitching on numerous occasions. I never doubted the commitment of all involved, but I felt that a better job should have been done on a trip of such importance. *grumble eye twitch grumble* Rant over!

READ IT! Buy Frozen in Time for your loved ones for Christmas! This is an amazing story of survival that needs to be shared! Let me know what you think.

Lindsay

The Green Mill Murder

The Green Mill Murder

by Kerry Greenwood

15982112

Phryne Fisher is doing one of her favorite things—cutting the rug at the Green Mill, Melbourne’s premier dance hall. In a sparkling lobelia-colored georgette dress, dancing to the stylings of Tintagel Stone’s Jazzmakers, nothing can flap the unflappable flapper. Nothing except death, that is.

The dance competition is trailing into its final hours when suddenly, in the middle of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” one of her fellow contestants slumps to the ground. No shot was heard, and Phryne, conscious of how narrowly the missile must have missed her own bared shoulder, undertakes to investigate. This leads her into the dark and smokey jazz clubs of Fitzroy, the arms of eloquent strangers, and finally into the the sky, on the trail of a complicated family tragedy of the Great War and the damaged men who served at Gallipoli. In the Australian Alps, she meets a hermit with a dog called Lucky and a wombat living under his bunk… and risks her life on the love between brothers.

November always finds me reading (and watching) historic mysteries. I don’t know what it is about this time of year that has me longing for quirky mysteries and spunky detectives, but you can bet my mystery TBR pile has grown in the last two weeks! One of my go-to gumshoes is Phryne Fisher. The tv show (available on Netflix) is fantastic, and the books are equally enjoyable. I have previously reviewed the first four books in the series, and it’s time to add the fifth story, The Green Mill Murder. Phryne hits the town determined to listen to jazz and dance the night away when a crooked man falls dead at her feet. Phryne finds herself on the hunt for a murderer, dealing with a number of unsavory folk, and flying over mountains in search of a lost soldier. I have an announcement for fans of the show. There is a Green Mill Murder episode, but it is a tad different than the novel. The murder is the same for both, as are the exquisite settings of both the jazz scene and the mountains of the Australian wilderness. But, the relationships between characters are drastically different, which is both good and bad. Let’s start with why I loved The Green Mill Murder, the flying. Greenwood expertly describes the sensation of flying in an open cockpit plane. The feel of ice on the wind, the overwhelming sense of utter freedom, and the smells of the engine fuel and oil had me wanting to put the book down and take off in my little plane. I could feel the tug of mud on wheels upon landing, and the encompassing fear of a sudden fog. Phryne’s flight, and subsequent time in the mountains, is what saved this book AND instilled it as my current favorite in the series.

Honestly, I wasn’t enjoying the story until Phryne took off in her little Gypsy Moth bi-plane. I felt the tv episode had done everything better. I preferred Charlie as a likable character instead of the cruel brat in the book. I felt the tv show actually handled the then illegal same sex relationship shared by Charlie and his lover instead of rushing through it, as in the book. And Phryne’s indifference and impatience through the first half of the novel matched my own feelings. I was worried about continuing the story, but then Phryne went flying!

But flying wasn’t the story’s only saving grace. The Green Mill Murder allows readers a deeper look into the thought processes of our strong willed detective. We see Phryne struggle to tolerate tedious people. We see her trying to mingle with the jazz musicians, only to remain an outsider. And we watch her learn to embrace her need for the lights and sounds of the city while hiding out in the quiet wilderness. It’s a stark look at an intelligent woman who struggles to fit in the world around her, and it was nice to see this side of Phryne.

The Green Mill Murder also provides a blunt examination of shell shock and PTSD. We hear stories shared by Bert and Cec, and watch as Phryne slowly uncovers the events that changed Vic’s world. It is an enlightening aspect of the story which left me feeling hopeful even after the last page was turned.

I recommend reading The Green Mill Murder and then watching the episode. I feel both were good in their own ways. Let me know which Mis Fisher story is your favorite. And i enjoy these cold winter nights with a good cup of coffee and a fun murder mystery!

Lindsay

2017 Reading Goals

Hey everyone! Yes, I know the first month of 2017 has come and gone, but its better late than never when it comes to sharing my reading goals for the year.

reactions hello bear hi wave

History and Mystery is dedicated to providing reviews on nonfiction and historical fiction books. I decided to change the platform from the original Sand Between the Pages, where I reviewed everything, to a site that focuses on my love of all things history. Now, I will admit that I was very burned out on nonfiction after finishing grad school. Sadly, dry tedious academic style writing had taken its toll, and I found myself shying away from everything nonfiction. But all of that is going to change!

Good To Live In Cambodia! Happy Gif animated GIF
My one reading goal for 2017 is to read and review 12 nonfiction books. Out of those 12, I have picked five that I must read for 2017. These are:

Descent Into Darkness: Pearl Harbor 1941: A Navy Diver’s Memoir

A Man on the Moon

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York

The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic

Jackie Cochran: An Autobiography

In other news, I have started a new Instagram dedicated to this book review site, so please check that out here. I have recently started a personal blog, Finding Adventure, where I talk about a variety of stuff, including my other hobbies. And, I am still trying to get the guts to start a BookTube channel. I’ll be honest, that has to be the hardest on this list. So wish me luck!

What are your 2017 goals? Do you have specific books that you plan to read this year? Please share them with me, because I’m excited to hear about them.

Lindsay

Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed

by Louis L’Amour

Last of the Breed

After U.S. Air Force Major Joe Mack is forced down in Russia and later escapes from a Soviet prison camp, he calls upon the skills of his Sioux Indian forebears to evade Alekhin, the Yakut native and legendary tracker, on his trail.

My husband loves to learn about basic survival skills; I enjoy reading survival stories.  We both want to be prepared to live in ‘the wild’ if we must.  We aren’t doomsday preppers or anything, but we do fly small airplanes and live in an area frequented by hurricanes.  Things could happen, and these survival stories are for educational purposes!  Louis L’amour’s Last of the Breed is the one story that I just can not stop reading.  I have read it between 5 to 10 times in the last 13 years and each time I am riveted!

Joe Mack is a Sioux who is also a test pilot for the Air Force.  He is captured by the Russians and brought to Siberia for interrogation.  Joe Mack refuses to remain a prisoner and he quickly escapes.  But he now much survive a Siberian winter and it will require all his military and ancestral training to make it out alive.  (Now I want to start reading it again!)

Last of the Breed was originally published in 1986 and the writing style is somewhat different than current publications.  The language is often more telling than showing, which requires a vivid imagination to fill in all the glorious details.  Luckily, I have one of those, but many reviews complain that the novel drags on because of it.  L’Amour also has a tendency to repeat himself…a lot.  I blame the editing process because this should have been fixed before publication.  The only time it bugged me was when the next sentence would be a reworded copy of the previous sentence.  That is an editing issue.

Don’t let this deter you because the story is great!  I am enthralled by Joe Mack and his journey across Siberia.  Plus, L’Amour provides an interesting cast of supporting characters for you to both love and hate.  I hold my breath as Talya and her father rush to the Chinese border.  I whisper “yes!” each time Joe Mack escapes; and I curse Alekhin as he hunts Joe Mack down.  But, this is more than a story of sheer survival.  L’Amour also describes the mental strain of surviving and living on the run.  These passages left me with goose-bumps as the fear of being hunted courses through me while Alekhin closes in on Joe Mack.  I know how the story ends, but that doesn’t matter.  I feel like I am there in Siberia every time I open this book.

FullSizeRender

Last of the Breed will always be one of my favorites and I plan to keep rereading it.  I mean, just look at my personal copy!  Why hasn’t it been made in to a movie?!  Anyways, happy survival reading everyone😛

Lindsay

East of Desolation

East of Desolation

by Jack Higgins

East of Desolation

Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…

couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf.  A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane?  Are you kidding me?  This book was just begging me to read it!  I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.

So I’ll start with the positives.  I like the main character, Joe Martin.  He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland.  Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier.  Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements.   The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane.  It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting.  I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.

Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid.  ALL THREE OF THEM.  It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968.  These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché.  Here are their descriptions:

1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore

2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil

3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny

Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe.  There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women?  They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.

East of Desolation is a decent book.  Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting.  It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.

Are you a Jack Higgins fan?  These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!

Lindsay

Letters Home: 1944-1945

Letters Home: 1944-1945
Women Airforce Service Pilots
by Bernice ‘Bee’ Falk Haydu

20140703-150107-54067401.jpg

 In February of 1944 Bernice Falk was accepted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II (WASP).  Her mother saved the letters Bee wrote home describing her training and tour of active duty.  They tell a fascinating storyof her military experiences and some of the problems she had to overcome in order to become and remain a professional pilot.  She explains how aviation and piloting continued to be an important part of her life while rearing a family who all learned to love flying.  She also chronicles the WASP struggle to be recognized as veterans during her term as president of their organization.

I was having a difficult time finding a book to share after finishing my thesis last week and starting Camp NaNoWriMo this week. I wanted something uplifting and inspirational for the 4th of July and then I remembered a gem that holds a cherished spot on my shelves.

I purchased my copy of Letters Home from Bee Haydu at the EAA Airventure Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin a few years ago.  I was inspired by the eighty year old woman and her flight stories.  Letters Home is a collection of personal letters from Bee to her mother during her flight training with the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs.  The WASPs were ferry pilots for the United States during World War II and Bee includes informational passages about the WASPs, World War II aviation, and the role of female pilots.   She provides readers with a detailed description of life during the early 1940s, when these women were fighting against social norms to fly.  Letters Home documents how Bee followed her dreams into the sky and the life of flight that followed.

Her story is an inspiration to me because I am a fellow female aviator, but I believe non-pilots would enjoy this spunky woman’s story.  I have been blessed to speak with Bee Haydu on multiple occasions, and have heard more stories each time.  Haydu and her fellow veterans are part of America’s greatest generation and her story is a perfect read on America’s Independence Day.  Letters Home can be found on Amazon and please visit the WASP Museum to learn more about the daring female pilots of World War II.

Let me know if you have any questions about the WASPs and aviation.  Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Lindsay

East of Desolation

 

East of Desolation

by Jack Higgins

East of Desolation

Cape Desolation, Greenland–The wreckage of a private airplane is discovered high up in the icy desert. The pilot listed in the log and the body found near the plane are not the same. Charter pilot Joe Martin is hired by the pilot’s widow and insurance company to fly them through deadly terrain to the site of the crash…

I couldn’t keep myself from reading East of Desolation when I saw it on the library shelf.  A thriller about an arctic pilot in search of a mysterious downed plane?  Are you kidding me?  This book was just begging me to read it!  I practically ran to my car to start listening to the audiobook.

So I’ll start with the positives.  I like the main character, Joe Martin.  He is a delivery pilot who is content to spend the rest of his days delivering supplies to the remote areas of Greenland.  Not much upsets him because he has chosen this simple, yet dangerous lifestyle, until he is hired to locate a plane that crashed years earlier.  Higgins does a wonderful job writing the aviation scenes and it was just fun listening to Joe fly against the Greenland elements.   The storyline was intriguing; I was constantly eager to learn more about the crashed plane.  It really isn’t hard to figure out who the ‘bad guys’ are, but there are a few surprise twists that kept East of Desolation interesting.  I even enjoyed the motley crew of secondary male characters.

Now for the negatives; the female characters were horrid.  ALL THREE OF THEM.  It is blaringly obvious by the writing style that East of Desolation was originally published in 1968.  These women where undeveloped and the epitome of every negative female cliché.  Here are their descriptions:

1. simple, round, gullible and hopelessly devoted to a manwhore

2. stunningly beautiful, manipulative, and just down right evil

3. oddly attractive, cruel, intent on being the center of attention, high maintenance, and whiny

Not a single one of them had any redeemable quality, and I was quite pissed that one of them was a love interest for Joe.  There was no real romantic connection because how can you make a down-to-earth guy work with any of these women?  They were only there to push the story along, and I would have enjoyed East of Desolation much more if they had been left out completely.

East of Desolation is a decent book.  Higgins drew me in with the over the top male characters, interesting mystery, and beautiful setting.  It is worth a read if you find this type of thriller interesting, but you may want to steer clear if you expect substantial and well developed female characters.

Are you a Jack Higgins fan?  These last two posts have me wanting to do some cold weather flying!

Lindsay