Life and Things
Mostly quiet week. Still working through Stranger Things. So far, I’m still enjoying it, but I liked the first season more. I went to a work Christmas party and got to discuss archaeology with a friend’s brother.
I do get to participate in clinical trials for my liver condition. It’s double-blind, but that’s a two in three chance of getting the drug. It’s a total of seven years, and I’ll need to get at least three more biopsies. Um…yay?
Wednesday was fun! We went to see Lindsey Stirling. She is such a sweet, inspiring person. Always a pleasure to see her perform.
Books read, reviewed, and posted/scheduled this past week
Murder on the Lake of Fire by Mikel J Wilson, 3*
Celine on Fire by Dale Allan Pelton, 5*
Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Stacey King, 5*
Favourite Read of the Week
Celine on Fire by Dale Allan Pelton
‘“Céline on Fire” poses the question, why read history? Set during the Cold War, “Céline” is a coming of age story in 1950s Paris. Céline Colbert, 14, a dancer, her sister Yvonne, 28, professor of philosophy and history at the Sorbonne, share a taxi in the rain with Giovanni Sandretti, 23, an Italian-American trumpet player born in Viterbo, Italy. In the Parisian worlds of jazz, flamenco, and tango, Giovanni becomes Yvonne’s lover and Céline’s friend. Each of the characters share the narration from chapter to chapter like a jazz trio swapping riffs as they improvise on a common theme. Bertrand Russell said, “To understand an age or a nation we must understand its philosophy, and to understand its philosophy we must ourselves be in some degree philosophers.” The lesson of “Céline on Fire” is that it is our responsibility for each of us to be that philosopher.
After a shattering tragedy, Céline struggles to find herself as both an artist and a woman. In a time when everyone went out dancing, and Parisians endlessly debated politics in the cafés, the novel recreates the era of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Audrey Hepburn, with dance sequences of ballet, jazz, ballroom, Latin and tango, reprising the 1950’s musicals of Gene Kelly’s “American in Paris.” Haunted by heartbreak, Céline is a resilient role model for young women trying to find themselves. Intelligent yet sensual, disciplined but burdened with grief—falling down then climbing back to her feet—Céline saves herself through dance.
On Giovanni’s jazz tour behind the Iron Curtain, fans in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia share stories of their quest for freedom. Attila and Zizi in Budapest recount the terror of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and Les Gordon, the leader of the group, an African-American living in Paris to escape racism, tells of the savage race massacre in Tulsa, and the heartbreaking Indian Removal under President Andrew Jackson confiscating the lands of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and Muskogee-Creek nations, forcing them through snow and ice to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears where one out of four died, raising the question, how do we forgive mass murder? Is atonement possible for a nation’s deeds in the past?
Written by an artist rather than a historian, “Céline” explores historical and philosophical ideas through the means of conversation—history viewed by an artist rather than a scholar. “Céline” shows how the literature of 19th century Prussia informed 20th century Germany; the 6th century BC Shinto myth of Amaterasu, goddess of the sun, created the cult of the Emperor in 20th century Japan; the Dreyfus Affair in France in 1894 resulting in the creation of Israel in 1948; the creation in 1921 of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Israel and the struggle between Shias and Wahhabiya Sunnis, Palestinians and Israelis.
“Céline” chronicles the First World War when nationalist chauvinism was responsible for devouring seventeen million lives. In the 21st century, nationalism is rising again—in Russia, the European Union and in our own country as well. Nationalism rises then recedes with time, but man’s instinct for, “us against the foreigners,” never dies—lying silently like the plague sleeping until it awakens to murder again.
The book tells of Senator McCarthy 1950’s witch hunt for traitors in our government, bringing to mind the words of Michel de Montaigne, ‘There is no passion as contagious as that of fear.’ Fear is the mother of war, fascism and genocide. “Céline” shows how a demagogue can rise to power in a democracy by unleashing that fear, seizing power by creating a world of unreality. Gifted in the Procrustean solution, the demagogue processes data to fit a preconceived notion—he invents the truth. While recounting the attacks against democracy in the 20th century, “Celine on Fire” tells a sweeping tale of romance and a passion for music and dance.’
Quackery by Lydia Kang & Nate Pedersen
‘What won’t we try in our quest for perfect health, beauty, and the fountain of youth?
Well, just imagine a time when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When liquefied gold was touted as immortality in a glass. And when strychnine—yes, that strychnine, the one used in rat poison—was dosed like Viagra.
Looking back with fascination, horror, and not a little dash of dark, knowing humor, Quackery recounts the lively, at times unbelievable, history of medical misfires and malpractices. Ranging from the merely weird to the outright dangerous, here are dozens of outlandish, morbidly hilarious “treatments”—conceived by doctors and scientists, by spiritualists and snake oil salesmen (yes, they literally tried to sell snake oil)—that were predicated on a range of cluelessness, trial and error, and straight-up scams. With vintage illustrations, photographs, and advertisements throughout, Quackery seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.’
Next Up (maybe)
Fire and Fate by Simone Pond, Silver Dagger
Fire and Chains by Simone Pond, Silver Dagger
Fire and Blood by Simone Pond, Silver Dagger
Island of Exiles by Erica Cameron, Dec 27
Sea of Strangers by Erica Cameron, Dec 27, Chapter by Chapter
Finding Sophie/Losing Cadence by Laura Lovett, Dec 27
Hypatia of Alexandria by Laurel A Rockefeller, Dec 30
The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor CBR
Besieged by Kevin Hearne CBR
How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci, CBR
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton. CBR
Hour of Mischief by Aimee Hyndman
Season of Wind by Aimee Hyndman
Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittany
‘The first in an exciting new Mayfair 100 series of nostalgic crime sagas.
Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small specially-formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair. London, 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.
Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is faced with investigating the murder of an aristocrat and the man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.
As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes. Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?’
Traitor Born by Amy Bartol
‘In the Fates Republic…
Firstborns reign supreme.
Secondborns kneel in servitude.
Thirdborns face death.
And Census shadows them all.
Secondborn Roselle St. Sismode was pressed into military service to battle the rebel uprising threatening the society that enslaves her. Now, powerful factions conspire to subvert the lines of succession, positioning Roselle to replace her mother as leader of the Republic’s armed forces. But the woman who bore her would sooner see Roselle dead than let her usurp her firstborn brother’s command.
The deadly war of intrigue between her new masters and her ruthless family is but one conflict challenging Roselle. A soldier for the rebellion has drawn her into a rogue army’s plot to overthrow the Republic and shatter its brutal caste system. Targeted by assassins and torn between allies, Roselle will have her loyalty, love, and honor tested in the greatest battle of—and for—her life.’
Star Wars: Cobalt Squadron by Elizabeth Weiner
‘New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) journeys to a galaxy far, far away to bring readers the harrowing story of the courageous bomber pilots and technicians of Cobalt Squadron!’