Friday, October 12, 2012


by Chelsea Cain

I listened to this audio book while cutting fabric and pressing quilt blocks.  When I had to stop to sew, I wished I had earphones so I could continue listening.  *Note to self - get earphones out of drawer in the library and put near the sewing machine.

This is not a book for the faint of heart.  There's nothing cozy about this mystery.  This was a book on my Pinterest "Book Recommendations" board that I was able to find on

Heart Sick features a beautiful, female serial killer.  Gretchen Lowell may be the scariest villain I've encountered in my reading.  I really liked Archie Sheridan, the investigator that she tortured and let live.  The story starts out with Archie dreaming about the time with Gretchen and the torturing.  It had been over 2 years since she held him captive but he is still obsessed and thinks about her, reliving the nightmare daily.  Archie's partner encourages  him to come back to work and help solve a new serial case involving young girls.

The story shifts between Archie's memories, along with visits to Gretchen in the penitentiary, and working to find the latest serial killer.  I like books that build on two or more story lines at a time.  Earlier tonight I discovered this is book one of a series.  I will probably read the next but I don't understand why.  There's something compelling about Gretchen's psychological hold on Archie and I hope that he is successful in expunging her from his thoughts. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Joy of X

by Steven Strogatz

This is a fun, understandable (to a point) book about math.  Before I became a science teacher I considered teaching math or English.  I rejected English because I wasn't sure I had the ability to encourage writing skills.  I can usually tell what's well-written and what's not, but how do I instruct a student to improve his writing?  I took one look at the Theory of Math classes required to teach math and shook my head.  If Strogatz was the teacher of those classes I may have reconsidered.

When I read a book like this I enjoy the feeling of grasping concepts presented in a 'new-to-me' way.  Unfortunately, I don't hold on to those concepts for long and I'm not able to discuss them in any knowledgeable manner.  So writing this book review is harder than writing about fiction.

There is a story line, of sorts.  Strogatz starts with a description of numbers that we learn about in kindergarten - real numbers that made sense to me.  I understood for the first time that numbers are much like the science words my students complained about learning.  A number is a shorthand way to express in one symbol what might take a whole phrase or sentence to explain otherwise.

We are led from what we understand to what flew over our heads in math class.  Imaginary numbers never made sense to me until reading this book.  The day I read about imaginary numbers I talked with my daughter who is taking Calculus 3 in college.  She was complaining about imaginary numbers.  I laughed at the timing.

When you're in a book store pick this book up and read through the chapter titles.  Strogatz is very creative both with his chapter titles and his presentation.  As I read The Joy of X (cute title, huh?) I thought of my math friends and how much they would enjoy this book.  Yes, Raidergirl, I thought of you!  Even if you're not a 'math geek' you may want to excite your synaptic firings by reading an interesting approach to math.  Hmmm, I wonder if I've pushed back the onset of Alzheimer's.

One other good thing - Strogatz talked about several different fictional books that I wrote down.  The first I want to get my hands on is The Housekeeper and the Professor.  Has anyone read it?

 ** I received a  copy of The Joy of X  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. 


by John Smolens

I enjoy historical fiction so when this book became available on NetGalley, I requested a copy.  The setting is 1796 - just a short time after the Revolutionary War - a time period I haven't read much about.  A trading ship owned by a wealthy, lecherous townsman arrives in Newburyport, Massachusetts caring a plague.  The people are ordered to stay on board and the yellow flag is raised  warning of quarantine.

Some men sneak off the ship and come into town, spreading the disease.  Soon tents are set up and townspeople are taken to the tents where most will die.  It was interesting to hear about the medical practices of the day.  I squirmed thinking about the bleeding of patients and laying hot bricks on their upper body.  I wonder if, years from now, we will look back on our highly esteemed medical practices with the same feelings of squeamishness.

There's more to the story than just the quarantine.  There's the element of crooked dealings at other's peril in the wake of war and disease and there's the story of lost love, an orphaned boy, and a family with some quirky problems to face.

 ** I received a  copy of Quarantine  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.