Titanics Last Secret’s by Brad Matsen

In August of 2005, 93 years after Titanic had sunk and become the worlds biggest ship disaster – a discovery about the ship is revealed.  A team that had been diving found previously undiscovered wreckage of the ship that led to the conclusion that Titanic’s bow had not rose up in the air as the famous movie scene dictated – but instead had broken in half while the ship was horizontal. 

How is it that all these years later that this could be true?  With all the eye witnesses from the life boats, how was this one fact told incorrectly or pushed so far from what really happened?

I have always been fascinated with all things Titanic.  The tragedy is monumental and to this day I struggle wrapping my heard around the sheer magnetism of the senseless loss of life.  I have read many books on the subject feeling almost as though I had put myself on the ship, trying to escape Titanic and hoping for another outcome….  when I seen this audio I knew I had to listen to it.

What Brad Matsens research for this book covers is why the Titanic sunk so quickly, when in all rights it should have been fine to float until the rescue boats came… instead, the time between the iceberg hitting the boat and the sinking of this great ship was two hours and forty minutes.  That’s enough to give my chills.  What is pointed out in this telling is that the Titanic and in fact other large ships like her, were not built sound enough – too large for the building skills of the time.

The book while  starting out in modern-day, travels back to the original building of the ship from the three famous men who were the creation and ultimately the fate of Titanic, Lord Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and Thomas Andrews, all through the discussion of the lifeboats and how ugly they were on the ship so really why not cut them to the bare minimum?

You also get a retelling of what happened that night and perhaps most interesting for me, what happened in the days and weeks after the ship sank as far as the trials and the holding of the ships crewman who survived for questioning. 

Those of you who are interested in Titanic like me will find this an informative and thought-provoking read – a definite addition to my Titanic resources.

LoVe In A Nutshell by Janet Evanovich

Kate Appleton’s life had hit the skids.  Suddenly jobless, husbandless, and really feeling kind of low, she decided that the only she wants to be right now is at her parents summerhouse, The Nutshell in Keenes’ Harbor Michigan.  Unfortunately, much like her life, The Nutshell has seen better days as well and Kate finds herself needing cash in supply if she is about to renovate this house into her dream, a bed and breakfast.

Enter Matt Culhane, owner of a local brewery but having some major issues with someone sabotaging his company.  When Matt meets Kate, he likes her spunk and hires her to be an undercover spy on his employees.  If Kate can figure out who is out to get him, he will pay her a $20,000 bonus.  Kate quickly accepts this “dangled carrot” and tries to wiggle her way into the trusts of the brewery employees.

Only… there are a few problems.  Kate despises beer and has an odd reaction if she drinks it.  None of the employees seem to trust her.  Oh, and she is falling for her boss. 

Janet Evanovich and I have not crossed paths for years.  Recently when I was in my local library I wandered over to a display they put up of new arrivals.  I like to see what audio has come in and there this was.   Evanovich writing something new after the recent release of the movie from her book One For The Money…. I admit I was curious.

While a fun listen (nice job narrator Lorelie King!) it was what I have come to expect of Janet Evanovich, cooky characters, a romance in the making, a small plot that unrolls throughout the book.  Kate is nowhere near as doopy (my word) as Stephanie Plum, and I did like that.  Where Plum is surrounded by family, Kate only has her potato chip addicted dog, a brief cameo of her mother and a briefer of her father, and a hostile ex husband. 

It was a good listen and I think Evanovich fans will enjoy this one as much as they have enjoyed her other books.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

I borrowed this from my local library

Heartbreakers by Pamela Wells

Sydney’s boyfriend decides to break off the relationship.  Kelly’s boyfriend has big plans for Valentine’s Day… just not with her.  Raven is stuck in the middle of two guys and can not decide.  Alexia has never had a serious boyfriend and wonders if she ever will.

Four friends all single start to wonder if this teenage love is worth all the pain of heartbreak.  Together they make a list of 25 Rules that they call the Breakup Code.  These rules are to get them all through the next few months and they are to make sure that not one of them falters…

  • Rule No 1:  You must not text or IM the ex boyfriend

but rules were made to be broken…

right?

I think I have found a true YA book that really felt to me to be YA… a young YA.  There is no paranormal activity, while partying is mentioned, it is just that…a mention.  No sex, no drugs, just clean sweet relationships that reminded me of Jr High.

(Yup…. we are going to have a flashback…. hang on!)

I remember those first what I thought were serious relationships in that 14 – 17 year range.  And I quite easily remember what it felt like when “the one” you thought was :the one”… wasn’t.  Seriously, do you remember that feeling?  You though you were going to die from the pain of heart-break!  I remember barely being able to get my head off the pillow…

This is the kind of love we are talking about in Heartbreakers.  The girls are still young and each break up or relationship feels overpowered with emotions.  And of course you can’t break girl code – your friends come first at this time in your life and if that say he’s wrong for you… then he is… even if you think he is so right.

I thought how each chapter started with one of the Break Up Codes was smart writing.  I thin I would have liked it more if the chapters and codes were in order instead of the code skipping around that is in the book.

Over all I can imagine that this would be a book more appreciated by tweens.  I have heard this book be compared to the Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants and I think that is a fair comparison.

**Update:  Pamela has a third book in the series coming out yet in 2012!

 

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Rating

Borrowed from my local library

Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Darcy was born beautiful.  Really… it’s true.  Just ask her.  She will be the first to tell you that she is perfect.  She loves that men find her attractive so it’s no big surprise that she is stunned to find that her fiance friend Marcus takes work.  Oh but never fear, Darcy continues to work her magic until she gets her way… only to be truly shocked and offended when she finds out fer fiance Dex, has also found his way to another… her best friend Rachel.

Oh the nerve of some people!  While yes, Darcy to has cheated with Marcus (more than once but really who is counting) she is still appalled to think that Dex and Rachel had done the unthinkable to her.  Yes… once again it is all about Darcy…

and as the title suggests….

she turns out to be pregnant with Marcus’s child… a child he does not want… and in fact he’s pretty tired of Darcy’s uppity ways as well.  Darcy quickly finds herself without a place to stay, so she packs her bags and goes to London to stay with her writer friend Ethan… only the life lessons continue as Ethan’s flat isn’t “all that” and he is not about to put up with selfish behavior.

Oh whats a girl to do…. and a pregnant one at that….

The character of Darcy is desribed as 5' 9" and 124 pounds. I had to Google such a body type to get a visual... and here she is .... "A Darcy"

Occasionally I enjoy a bit of a fluff read.  Just a fun, no thinking involved read.  When I found this audio on Amazon I thought I would give this audio a try.   A series of emotions came forth as I listened to this audio:

disbelief

annoyance

horrified

disgusted

cautiously optimistic

passive

accepting

Ugghhh…. it’s almost like the stages of grief.  😛  I started out not liking Darcy at all.  Really there was nothing to like.  She is an extremely self-centered character who only cared about making sue all men had eyes only for her, always wanting what she could not have until she got it… and then drinking while pregnant just about pushed me over the edge.  Fictional character or not, I was about to take Darcy out. 

Then…. slowly…. she began to change, in an almost predictable way, she learns the errors of her ways and well… you will just have to read it to see exactly what that means.

This is the sequel to Something Borrowed which I have not read.  ( I heard it was a movie and I was going to try to see it before I listened to this audio but I did not… I still may watch it at some point.) However I don’t think I missed anything by diving into this one, the characters were easy to figure out where they stood. 

In recap…. I didn’t hate it.  It actually grew on me a bit.  Not so much as I would pursue the series, but in the end I may have been able to have lunch with Darcy without stabbing her in the neck with my fork. 

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

I have updated the 2011 WHERE Are You reading map to include Something Blue

I purchased this audio from Amazon


Brown Bag Book Event with Author Laurie Hertzel

On Monday, July 18th, our local library hosted author Laurie Hertzel to discuss her latest book, News To Me, Adventures Of An Accidental Journalist.  *you can see more details about this event on the Morning Meandering post*

Laurie Hertzel always knew she wanted to be a writer.  She grew up knowing books, and knowing they were important and valued.  With nine siblings, Laurie had said, her dad would occasionally take whoever was around at the time and load them all into the van and they would go into the book store and each be able to pick out whatever book they wanted.

Laurie who is the Senior Book Editor for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune says she receives around 1,000 books a month for review.  They arrive in shopping cart loads and it is up to her to sort through them.  She says on a good week she can get 6 reviews in the paper – one on Monday, occasionally one on Wednesday and four in the Sunday paper.  It is not easy to choose she says but what she says this is what she looks for:

  • Obviously the big read – like Freedom by Johnathon Franzen (she says people expect these to be reviewed)
  • Regional Reads
  • Human Interest
  • Non Fiction or a poetry read
  • Small Presses

Her job is not sitting at a desk reading.  During office hours she is writing reviews, answering calls and emails.  Her reading comes after hours.  She loves her job and says it is really more like a 24 hours a day job.

For anyone who has an interest in journalism this is Laurie’s advice:

  • Keep practicing your craft… in other words write whenever and wherever you can
  • Dont become political as in choosing sides, you need to stay responsible and neutral
  • Be nimble… learn to use pics, video, twitter, Facebook… report across platform

As far as Laurie’s book goes… she is hilarious.  She read aloud the chapter about making coffee being part of her job at a newspaper office.  She was told that the pot was never to be empty. Laurie doesn’t drink coffee and the only faucet that had enough space to put the coffee carafe under it to fill with water, was the one in the mens bathroom.  She learned quickly that by making really bad tasting coffee, and then responding, “What?  Oh does it not taste good?  I don’t know what it should take like as I do not drink coffee”, soon caused that task to be removed from her list of duties. 

The book itself takes us through Laurie’s careers from the library to the news room… and um… back to the library.  She speaks well, she is fun and funny to listen too.  She also has some amazing chapters in the book such as when in the mid 80’s she went as a reporter to Russia with a group of people from Duluth Minnesota who wanted to make one of the Russian towns their sister city, and when letters requesting such were ignored, they decided to go in person.   Laurie pretty much sold out of her books at this event. 

I am currently reading News To Me and I will have a review of this book up in the next couple of days.

Me and Laurie Hertzel

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, the star of the series No reservations on the Travel Channel, and the author of Kitchen Confidential now releases his sharp tongue, never apologizing ways in this new collection about the chefs in the industry, the economy, the best places to find a good burger… it reads like we are sitting and talking about cooking and food…. Anthony Bourdain flies from topic to topic, while occasionally hard to follow – it almost always is interesting.

If you have seen his show, you pretty much know what you are in for.  At least… I thought I did.

 

Here is a little sample (or two) of Bourdain’s show, No Reservations:

 

 

 

Anyway – you get the picture.  Food is what Boudain does.  And for the most part he does it well.  This was also the draw for me to this audio, narrated by Anthony Bourdain himself.

I admit it.  I like the tone of Anthony’s voice.  He is level and matter of fact.  he has a quick wit, a knack for sarcasm – and he tells it like it is.  Even, when I necessarily do not need to know to that extent of “what it is”.

What do I mean by that?  Well, while I do enjoy Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations… I have come to realize that they clean his words up quite a bit.  In this audio, there is none of this and you can plan on being encased in everything that is on Anthony’s mind and without any sensors, all of this will come right out of his mouth.  You will hear the “F” word… frequently.  You will hear pretty much every other word as well.

So why, a person that usually avoids such books and audio, why would I put myself through this?

Honestly… I like to hear about the food behind Anthony’s language.  If you can filter (and you will need a heavy-duty one at that) through that, the audio is quite interesting. 

I enjoyed hearing how the economy changed the look and feel of some of New Yorks higher class restaurants forever – and even possibly for the better.  Anthony shares that while some restaurants may no longer be able to afford to serve the salmon they once did, they have found ways to serve delicious lesser priced fish just as well.  In some cases – they are thrilled to do so as chefs have known that some of the fish that normally would not grace their menu, is actually very good – and the economy has given them the opportunity to show this.

I also learned – that the economy has made the classy restaurants friendlier.  There was a time you would be snubbed for walking up to a high-class eatery without a reservation.  If you called to get a reservation without weeks and weeks notice, you would practically be hung up on.  These days are gone.  People are now encouraged to come in anytime.  The phone service has greatly improved and the wait staff is considerably friendlier.  Well – yay for all of that.  😛

I also enjoyed hearing about other big named chefs.  Bourdain is not easy on any of them.  He takes no prisoners. Some he admires.  More, he does not, and he is not shy to tell you why.  Names are tossed on the chopping block.  He even goes into detail about his time as a judge on Top Chef.  Bourdain will share, occasionally at great lengths about the importance of the great chefs actually being at their restaurants – actually cooking meals instead of relying on their name alone to get people in the door. 

The chapter talking of the great detail that chefs go to prepare the fish for our meals – astounded me.  I had never thought about what the big name restaurant may pay for a pound of fish and that would be including – head, innards, scales etc… much of which they paid for is thrown away in the cleaning process and they pay a very talented chef with a knife to do just that long before we ever see it on our plate. 

At times I applauded Anthony Bourdains’ boldness.  At other times I cringed at his references, language and crudeness.   I am well aware that some of what make me cringe… are part of what has made him the success he is today.

The over all thing I have to admit here is that despite his great flaws…. I like him.  

 

This review is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.  Pop on over and see what others are cooking or reading about food this weekend!

 

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

 

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Medium Raw

I purchased this audio from audible.com

Dinner with Beth Hoffman – author of Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

There are moments in my life that are so wonderful I have to pinch myself to make sure they are real. 

On Tuesday, May 24th, I had the privilege to join a group of wonderful book bloggers and have dinner with the amazing Beth Hoffman.  We were to meet at 7:15 pm at Mercer’s Kitchen, in Soho New York. 

I experienced my first subway ride which I caught with Candace from Beth Fish Reads, Dawn from She’s Too Fond Of Books, and Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books.  We arrived early and waited at the bar for the rest of the bloggers and for Beth.

I met at the restaurant Lydia from Lost Entwife and she brought her sister Candace too.  Shortly after Nicole came from Linus’s Blanket, and then Julie from Booking Mama and Kathy from Bermuda Onion.  Two new to me bloggers were Stephanie from Steph The Bookworm and Mandy from The Well-Read Wife.

And of course, there was Beth Hoffman.  Beth may as well have walked right off her website as we all knew her right away – she looks exactly like her picture!  Sweet and friendly she came in and hugged each one of us, calling us her girls and escorting us to a large table for our reservation. 

She had flown in the previous day just to meet with us.  The dinner was lovely and the conversation just as lovely.  It was so interesting to listen to her talk about the characters she brought to life in Saving  Cee Cee Honeycutt as well as the one character in the book that is requested time and again by her fans to make a come back, Oletta.  (I would have to agree)

I ordered the halibut which was so amazing, and a raspberry wafer dessert that was melt in your mouth delicious. 

What a great evening!  As we talked Beth shared what was next on her agenda and I am excited to share that it is another book (SSQQUUUEEE!!!) called Looking For Me.  Beth shared that Looking For Me is going to be quite different from Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt. I am sooooo excited!

A sweet little notepad and a bookmark. The notpad says "What would Oletta Say?" - a gift from Beth Hoffman (so sweet!)

After a wonderful meal and good byes (and a few tears shed), I made it back to the hotel at 11:30 p.m.  Thrilled with a wonderful evening and the excitement of a second book by this incredible author.