13. August 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Fiction, Janet

The Best Cat Ever by Cleveland Amory, 262 pages, read by Janet, on 08/10/2012

The Best Cat EverThis is another of Cleveland Amory’s humorous stories about a special cat.  He is very knowledgeable about cats and prides himself on taking good care of his pets as well as feeling personal friendship with them.  He expects his friends to appreciate them, too.  Polar Bear was a stray kitten when found and his life until the old-age problem of uremic poisoning, kidney failure, took him away was enjoyed and reviewed by the author with a great deal of humor.  Mr. Amory admits learning many things while living with Polar Bear – some of which came in handy with his associates.

30. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Exploring Historic Jefferson City by Gary R. Kremer, 137 pages, read by Janet, on 07/30/2012

I wanted to find out more about the city where i am living and working, and Gary Kremer has covered this very well.  He breaks it into 7 Tours around town (mostly meant for walking, with time and distance covered) and the seven cemeteries.  He mentions items in the past that are now different and why they changed.  He describes the different styles and materials of many buildings and the nationalities and special people who lived there.  Many time special activities that have taken place in an area are also mentioned.  Many items we wouldn’t know about are described, such as the house that had a turntable in the garage so the owner wouldn’t have to back out onto a busy street.  Architects are usually named and large changes that have taken place since the building was erected.  This is an excellent tour of Jefferson City that I would recommend to anyone.

17. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: History, Janet, NonFiction · Tags:

Women of the West by Dorothy Gray, 180 pages, read by Janet, on 07/17/2012

This country owes a lot to the efforts of the remarkable but rarely identified women of our western past.  Most are familiar with Sacajawea’s help to Lewis and Clark, but who knows of Narcissa Whitman, who ran a mission and helped travelers on the Oregon Trail, sending letters home that described conditions taking place during those years.  Many letters written by these early western women have been backgrounds for books.  Juliet Bier cared for three children while driving their cattle through Death Valley, following her husband, who was venturing ahead.  She helped many of the ’49ers along the trail and was later called “the best man of the party”.  There was Dame Shirley, who wrote descriptions of life in the California Gold Rush, minority women such as Biddy Mason and Donaldina Cameron, who taught and helped early settlers and the down-trodden Chinese culture, Esther Morris and Carrie Chapman West who led women in their new right to vote, and Ann Eliza Young, who won her fight agaiinst polygomy in the Mormon culture. Bright Eyes, daughter of Omaha Chief Iron Eyes, educated Indian children, then grew politically and gave many speeches in the East, particularly Boston and Washington D. C., leading a crusade for Indian justice.

There were many women who let the world know the conditions in the West as they taught, lectured, and led policital groups to help the cause of those being unfairly treated. More that were mentioned in the book were:  Agnes Morely Cleveland, Pamela Mann, Ella “Cattle Kate” Watson, Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress), Anna Howard Shaw, Bethenia Owens-Adair, Lucy Anthony, Miriam Davis Cott, Mary Elizabeth Lease, and Willa Cather. These were only some of the well-educated women who gave their all in the arts and political fields, as well as personally, to help the people settling the West.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Charles Kuralt's American Moments by Charles Kuralt, 255 pages, read by Janet, on 06/30/2012

We have all enjoyed hearing Charles Kuralt take us on a journey around the country, meeting the American people.  This book visits many people and places briefly around this country and lets us see a bit of its backbone from past history to the present. These are very short glimpses (ninely-second-long broadcasts) of America.  Among the people presented were a Vernonter splitting his winter wood, a Tennessee cotton-candy maker, a cable-car driver in San Francisco, a totem pole carver in Alaska, a mailman on the Magnolia River in Alabama, the caretaker of Grant’s Tomb in New York, a whirligig maker in Maine, a basket weaver in South Carolina, and a lady who repairs treadle sewing machines in Massachusetts.  Some of the places and things viewed were:  the Wisconsin home of Ringling Brothers Circus, the New Jersey U.S. flag-making factory, the home of buffalo wings in Buffalo, New York, a toothpick factory in Maine, the home of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, Missouri, a covered bridge in Oregon, sequoias in California, the small key deer in the Florida Keys, stone gargoyles on New York buildings, stained glass windows begun by Tiffany, and a lightbulb that has been glowing since 1901.  There are many, many more parts of our country’s history moments, some of which are still going on, and some just remembered well – all important in their own way in the life of our country.

25. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet, NonFiction · Tags:

Lost States by Michael J. Trinklein, 160 pages, read by Janet, on 06/24/2012

These are true stories of Texlohoma, Transylvania, and other states that never made it.  They were wanted by many people for political reasons, environmental reasons, commercial reasons, and lots more, but all were turned down.  Some had strange names, like Absaroka (near the Dakotas, of course), Adelsverein (German Texas), Deseret (Morman land near the desert), Forgottonia, Nickajack, No Man’s Land, Rough and Ready, and Yazoo.  Some had names that were later used in a different area, like Washington (south of Lake Erie), Wyoming (between New York and Pennsylvania), and Minnesota (south of Dakota).  Some hopeful states had  names that stayed as cities, such as Boston, Chicago, Lincoln (now Idaho and part of Washington), and New York City (as a city, it couldn’t be a state).  Some were actually in other countries, such as Albania, Cuba, Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, Panama, Puerto Rico, Sicily, and Taiwan – useful locations, but far away and difficult to protect, even though many of the people there wanted to become part of the United States.  If they all made it, I wonder what our flag would look like!



08. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me by Josef M. Bauer, 275 pages, read by Janet, on 06/08/2012

This is a marvelous true story of a man who was a German soldier captured by the Soviets during World War II and forced to work in a Siberian lead mine.  Conditions there were horrible and he decided he must escape to survive.  No one wanted to face the 8000-mile journey through trackless wilderness with him, but two people gave him things of great importance – a compass and a map.  With the help of a doctor (who also wished to escape but knew he was physically unable to make it), he was able to get out of the prison hospital and start his flight to freedom.  It took him three years of mostly walking, over mountains and across deserts, being always aware of the danger of recapture, humger (he had to learn to steal any kind of food), and the bone-freezing cold.  For awhile he had the companionship of a Russian dog, but most of his trip was alone.  His steady strength of character is amazing!

31. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet, NonFiction · Tags:

One Kingdom - Our Lives With Animals - The Human-Animal Bond in Myth, History, Science, and Story by Deborah Noyes, 128 pages, read by Janet, on 05/31/2012

Mankind has always wanted to know more about the animal kingdom.  Some animals have been feared, some depicted as gods, some made into pets, and others used for food.  The author tells a story of many animals as individuals or as groups, from the ancient past to the present.  Excellent photographs and drawings clearly show the animal being described.  She brings out many questions that have been asked about the relationship of humans and animals through the years.  General information about the situation is given, but readers are allowed to make their own decisions. She describes their lives in the free world and in zoos.  At the end, she lets the reader feel and see the world as an animal would, to help us understand their feelings and actions.  I found this to be a verywarm, clear description, easily understood by young readers.

22. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags: ,

Creatures of the Kingdom by James A. Michener, 396 pages, read by Janet, on 05/21/2012

     Using excerpts from Michener’s books, he writes segments about the animals that were included in the larger stories.  This is a wonderful history of the changes of the Earth through the centuries – the development of land and water features and the beginnings of the animal kingdom – from small to huge, back to medium size, and the coming of man.  Description of each section is so full of information that the reader feels like he/she is actually there, watching the events happening and understanding the feelings of the animals.  One adventure follows two men and a hyena as they explore Africa as friends.  Others told about the lives of a mastodon, an ancesstral bison, a crab, a dinosaur, a salmon, armadillos, the comparison of two hunting dogs – a labrador and a chesapeake – by their competing owners, and several other animals.  All had names and personalities.  I learned so very much about these animals as their stories were told. The last story is told by the author as he visits an old friend who was trying to protect his bird feeder from an invading squirrel, but unwilling to endanger the pest. The squirrel was in no danger.


07. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger, 546 pages, read by Janet, on 05/07/2012

What an unusual but attention-keeping story!  Henry is a time-traveler who vanishes from one moment in time to appear in another – earlier or later in his life, then returns (naked).  He may be gone moments, days, or years at a time.  He meets his wife, Clare, when she is 6, in a meadow near her house.  Through the years he visits her often and teaches her many things about life, nature, music, art – all things she remembers throughout her life.  He sometimes leads a rough and hectic life away from her, but always loves and protects her.  They marry when she is 22 and she knows that he will always return from his travels no matter how long he is gone.  Her age progresses naturally, but his changes in his travels and sometimes he meets himself in another age.  Most of the time he is a librarian – could this happen to us?

30. April 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Fiction, Janet, Science Fiction

The Lost World by Michael Crichton, 393 pages, read by Janet, on 04/29/2012

After Jurassic Park people have wondered if there could be prehistoric animals still living somewhere on Earth.  Supposedly they lived only a few thousand years then were killed by the falling of meteors.  At a convention in 1993, Dr. Malcolm dicussed the extinction of these animals and said complex animals were unable to adapt to changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.  A young palentologist, Richard Lavine, did not agree that all dinosaurs would have died and had heard rumors of some strange animals existing on an island near Costa Rica.  He had enough money to fund an exploratory trip to the island, Engin, with several other scientists, Sarah Harding, a field biologist from Africa, and Dr. Malcolm.  This is an excitiing adventure where the crew actually did find extinct animals reproducing on the island.  Of course, many of these animals were meat-eaters and the people looked like a good meal.  They had some very close adventures and the main characters did survive.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

Absolute Fear by Lisa Jackson, 404 pages, read by Janet, on 04/13/2012

Do you ever have trouble remembering something important?  Lisa Jackson was about killed and all she remembered was seeing her lover’s face in the window, aiming a gun at her.  Very unnerving!  Throw in connections to an old asylum where she spent much time as a child while her father treated the patients, several murders with numbers tatooed on them, and a mentally deranged man who feels God is instructing him to dispatch with certain people.  This is a fast-moving, hard-to-put-down book.

30. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Informational Book, Janet, NonFiction

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, 378 pages, read by Janet, on 04/29/2012

“The Classic that Launched the Environmental Movement” is just as scarey now as it was when written in the 1960s.  Chemicals are partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world.  Insecticides and weed sprays are still used everywhere there is a pest.  When first tried, many birds, animals, good trees and plants, and humans died from the effects.  They have supposedly been chemically changed to only harm the chosen items, but who knows what effects are still damaging others without recognition?  The leader of the insecticides, DDT, was first synthesized by a German chemist in 1874, and won the Nobel Prize in 1939.  Forms of it are still in many pesticides today.  Carson noted that “since mid 1940’s over 200 basic chemicals have been created for use in killing insects, weeds, rodents, and other organisms described in modern vernacular as ‘pests’.”  Many more have been invented now.  Today we have many cancer-producing agents.  What will be next?  This is a very frightening story that is still being seen taking place around the world.

17. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, 434 pages, read by Janet, on 03/31/2012

Sometimes we are blamed for something we didn’t do and can’t prove otherwise.  Jack St. Bride was accused of raping a teenage girl, but couldn’t prove he didn’t – twice!  Bad news about someone travels fast in small towns and isn’t easily put down, no matter how well that person conducts themselves.  We are reminded of the poem of Jack and Jill and their problems and parts of Arthur Millers’ The Crucible.  The combination of teen-age girls trying out the practices of Wicca and a handsome stranger with a questionable past leads to a very interesting small town problem.  Many secrets are hiding.


20. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

Toys by James Patterson, 364 pages, read by Janet, on 03/18/2012

ToysWe never outgrow our enjoyment of toys – unless they are threatening.  This is an exciting contest of Humans and the super powerful Elites that were given the very best of all qualities at birth.  Hays Baker is very well endowed with special skills, but finds himself attacked by both Humans and Elites – which is he?  The toys that entertain the Elites are so human-like that they can be programmed to do anything – even attack.  Who will rule the world?

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason, 372 pages, read by Janet, on 03/01/2012

The Rule of FourThe hypnotic power of a 500 year old Renaissance diary carries from father to son and other Princeton students as they try to solve the hidden mysteries in it.  Due to the age of the volume and the unique way clues are given, the students must seek a lot of information from other sources to understand the secret message divulged by the Hypnerotomachia.  The reader is carried into campus activity, the life of maturing students, love and death, and many references to the knowledge of ancient philosophers.  I found it very educational as well as hard-to-put-down.

13. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Autobiographies, Janet, NonFiction

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek Nation by J. Leitch Wright, Jr., 211 pages, read by Janet, on 03/07/2012

William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek NationThis is the biography of a very busy young man who was born in Maryland to British parents, joined the Maryland Loyalists when the American Revolution broke out, became unhappy with military life and joined the Indians, then spent the rest of his short life working with both sections.  He married two Indian women and a white woman and had a family with each.  He was talented in theater, art, baking, trading, and outdoor sports.  He tried to establish an independent Indian Nation aligned with Britain, but was unsuccessful.  He was captured by Spanish-American-half-breed soldiers at a council meeting and placed in a fort cell in Havana.  There, Bowles was chained in a dungeon and eventually starved to death.  This was a tragic end of a colorful and controversial figure who was a natural leader and was both admired and disliked by many political groups,  He had wide-spread interests and was at home in both a London drawing room or an Indian village

13. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, 335 pages, read by Janet, on 02/11/2012

Water for ElephantsThis story is a wonderful combination of an old man’s memories of his young life as a circus veterinarian and his difficulty facing the problems of old age.  It tells about how the people and animals in a circus deal with life in their own world.  All were lucky to have a job, including the young man who lost his parents and home just as he was getting ready to take his final college exam.  The book has many funny situations and is engrossing – very hard to put down, with a great view of circus life and the many characters that are a part of it.  The young man grows up and even finds love in this difficult situation.

06. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet, Mystery

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, 572 pages, read by Janet, on 02/06/2012

This is a fast-moving thrilling adventure of the Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon, as he was called to a Swiss research facillity to help figure out a mysterious symbol burned into the chest of a murdered famous physicist.  The discord of science and the Catholic church becomes heated with the apparent return of an ancient secret brotherhood, the Illuminati.  As a new Pope was to be elected at Vatican City, four top-ranking cardinals were taken and hidden before the voting could take place and an antimatter device was set up to destroy the city.  There is a very interesting description of the crypts, catacombs, and secret vaults Landon and the beautiful young Italian scientist who helped develop the anti-matter device, Vittoria Vetra, explored as they searched for the cardinals and the hidden bomb.

30. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Janet · Tags:

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King, 368 pages, read by Janet, on 01/24/2012

Full Dark No StarsFour stories by Stephen King about ordinary people in extraordinary situations, trying to do the right thing.  “1922” tells of a man whose wife wanted to sell the family homestead and move to Omaha.  Their disagreement led to a gruesome end.  “Big Driver” is about a lady mystery writer who had a flat tire on a country road “shortcut” after giving a program and was violently assulted by the driver of a truck.  She was left for dead.  The story tells of her revenge and learning about her inside self.  “Fair Extension” tells the tale of a man with cancer who makes a deal with the devil.  Both good and bad things developed.  “A Good Marriage” shows how even a happily married couple have secrets from each other – even murder.