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my books 4-28-11 165

It is necessary in almost every mystery story for the protagonist to follow a suspicious character.  Sometimes it is planned ahead of time, but very often it is a spur of the moment chance so the hero jumps into a taxi and says the famous words, “Driver, follow that car!”  No matter how many times I have read the same thing, it is always a thrill when the chase is on.  Think screeching tires and sudden turns.  Think headlights out on sinister rural roads and hanging back between trucks on the freeway.  

If the car is lost or if the followers are discovered the consequences will be severe.  It is a plot device, but it always draws me in.  

Other favorite devices and settings:

The secret hide out.  The Hole in the Wall, the Bat Cave.  The hidden door behind the mirror.

The spooky, abandoned house with old tapestries and trunks filled with letters.

The treasure map.  

Sinister cats, ghostly dogs, hunting hawks and talking parrots.

House boats tied up under bridges.

Ancient ruins and old cathedrals with bell towers to be climbed

The laboratory, the antique store, the dungeon below the opera house.

The last minute rescue of a person who is hanging off a cliff.  Yes, a cliff hanger.  

Michi Kaku explains that our brain likes surprises.  We may be bored by a cliché and suddenly it is turned around and we like the twist.  The unreliable narrator is one difference that surprises us.  The unheroic character who suddenly leaps into action is another.  The sinister villain who turns out to be an undercover agent can be cleverly done.  The bumbler who turns out to be valuable is another favorite of mine.  

Famous plot elements that never get old:

A character is framed.  How can she prove her innocence?

An alibi seems foolproof, but is it?

The locked room.

The puppet of a higher criminal is caught.  Can he be used to reach the ring leader?

The watcher.  Who is he and what does he want?

The character that sees something important and doesn’t know it.

Twins

Weird dreams that lead to new ideas about the problem/crime.

What is your favorite plot device or setting?  

Which mysteries or detectives are your favorites?  

Do older mysteries still hold up?  

Poll

Which plot device or setting is your favorite?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

"Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a horseman known as Zorro.”
or  
“And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.”
from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion
"The Impossible Dream"

I enjoy reading about quests and journeys on the hero road so I like the image of finding good books as a quest.  Is the quest for a great book really that important in the scale of things?  I say, yes it is.  If it enlarges our hearts then we go out into the world and share what we have learned.  We reach out and touch others who are struggling on their journey as we have been touched.  

There are good books, brave books, interesting books, disappointing books, just-for-fun books, but what makes a great book?  What kind of book takes your breath away when you read it?  What book feels just perfect for you?  Wise persons say that experiences we have are not coincidental, but are meant.  What wonderful book fits that thought?  

It is not always the great literary books of all time that I am thinking about, though there are many of those that I love and have re-read over and over.  It is not just the books of the wisest thinkers, though those are books that I revere.

For me the best books have several plums:

1.   It is readable.  Not impenetrable, not confusing, not so esoteric that it is unapproachable without a doctorate degree.

2.   It touches my heart.  It seems to be telling a truth that I need to hear.

3.   The language is beautiful.

4.   It engages my mind so that I ask questions.

5.   It is memorable and the characters nestle into my heart.

6.   It is one that I will want to re-read because it is rich and fills me up.

7.   It begs to be shared and discussed.  

8.   It inspires me to be bigger and better as a person.

Not many books are a grand slam with all of these points fulfilled, but when a book makes me sigh with relief that I found it and gives me pleasure as I read it, it is worth talking about as a great book.

Poll

What is one of your quests or on your bucket list to do?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Non, je ne regrette rien. (No, I don't regret anything).  

Is it only the shallow villains who cry this to the heavens as they go to meet their much deserved fate?  Do some villains live happily after with this motto on their shield?  Do we respect such villains who say this?

Or is it the heroes who swear this as they go into a battle they cannot win?  As they lay dying are these their final words?  Do we find it in our heart to mourn them for believing they must never reflect on life or loss or have their hero heart be tarnished?

Which characters in a story do we respect who do have regrets and do something about redemption?  Pride, ambition, selfishness, honor, mistaken goals, bad luck...all these things we find in villains and heroes.  Some heroes shine and some villains are complex because they do have regrets.  

Poll

Who is the creepiest villain?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

There are often times that I have read something in the paper that was so strange I knew a writer would never get away with putting it in a book.  The reader would just not accept it.  

If you are like I am then you have probably read a lot of strange fiction and you may doubt that there could be real things that are weirder.  

Poll

What are you hoping will come soon?

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Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 05:00 PM PDT

Bookflurries-Bookchat: Gripping Adventures

by cfk

Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

My readers are varied in what they enjoy for books so I try to have a theme about all kinds of books so no one feels left out.  The theme and the poll are only to get discussion going and mostly everyone just talks about what they are reading right now.  Even if you are not reading a book at the moment, you are welcome to chat about favorite stories.

Those who know me well, know that I read a lot of scifi/fantasy and mysteries so those are the books I often mention.  But gripping adventures are often found in non-fiction books as well as fiction.  They are true adventures with real people as heroes.

I don’t always need adventure or excitement to enjoy a book, but tonight I would like to mention some series stories set in fantasy worlds that were especially gripping.

Poll

Which books provide you with gripping adventure?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

The meaning of the phrase in the title is one where you lean back with something that feels good to you and say, “That’s the ticket!”  It is an expression meaning “just right” or as I sometimes see it as “What I need right now!”

It is often used after a long hard day and probably refers to some kind of drink in hand.  Not necessarily alcoholic, but something that hits the spot.

Tonight, I am thinking of books, of course, or movies.

I admit to having varying moods about books and movies and what hits the spot on one day does not apply on another.  With the internet handy, a person can tune into music, movies or books as the whim strikes them.

Sometimes my whim is something silly, a guilty pleasure, and other times it is something to satisfy my curiosity where my fingers twitch to pick up a book that I have been looking forward to reading.  Once in a while it is a book that I have read before or a favorite movie.

This time, it was The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku.  I told myself that the book should wait until I had finished at least one more of my challenge books.  But my fingers hovered and…grabbed.  I just couldn’t wait.

I have read two of his books:

Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21rst Century

Physics of the Future

Also, last week at Bookflurries there were several books mentioned that I put on my wish list at Barnes & Noble and then I went ahead and ordered them because…wait for it…they just hit me where I lived and I couldn’t resist.  I said in effect, “That’s the Ticket!”

I also borrowed my son’s copy of The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander (all in one book) to re-read because my copy is buried somewhere on a shelf and I bought the set for my grandson for his birthday this summer.  I thought I had better review the story so I can talk with him about it.  I admit that a few weeks ago James Wells lit the fire under me to get going on this project by mentioning the series.

There are some books that I yearn to re-read and Chronicles was high on that list.  It has been too long since I entered this world.  Has it lived up to my expectations after so many years?  So far, it has!

Some of the books I read or skimmed recently were disappointing, but one book was just lovely.  Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool (YA) was an unexpected treat.  Two lonely boys have an adventure.  It is a wonderful story.  As I read it, I kept feeling that this was the perfect book for me at the right time.  That doesn’t happen as often as I would wish.

Poll

Which set of movies appeals to you?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Our MT Spaces has published a Memoir, The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools: Memoir and Memorabilia.  See the Note below for details.

When I read a memoir, I also pause to think about my own life.  What was I doing in the same years?  How did my vision of life overlap with the author’s?  Good memories, hard memories, regrets, sympathy…all are part of my reading as the author shares his life.

In this book, I see memories of people who did the hard work of becoming entertainers, who reached out to the world and shared their vision and skills.  It takes courage and joy to produce a show.  The challenge of setting up in varied venues from the street to small stages, to high schools is a great one.  Finding enough money to live on while honing the material and getting known is very tough.  

This memoir is an intimate look from the inside that touches the heart the more you read about how the young artists began and worked together to create their shows.  The author saw it all from the beginning in Salt Lake City to the shows in Amsterdam.  He did lots of jobs to keep the show going strong such as doing art work, stage lighting, juggling, running off programs, and keeping the bus driver awake at night on bad roads.

I visited Amsterdam for a few days in 1972 so I know a little bit about the bustle of that city; the trams, the bicycles, the flower market and the buildings.  It is a lively city and the Mime Troupe made it livelier.

Thanks to MT Spaces’ gift of this book, I enjoyed a time travel trip back into the 70’s when dancers, mimes, clowns, and musicians were burgeoning with creative enterprise and daring the odds to show their stuff.  

Thank you, MT Spaces!!!

Poll

Which is your favorite?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Last year, my son-in-law made “cupcakes” that were really meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top.  He even colored the potatoes pink and green.  The 11 year old and the 7 year old were pretty put out, the 4 year old thought they were waaay cool, and the 2 year old cried his lungs out.  The next day to make up for it, he made real cupcakes.

April Fool 's cupcake of meatloaf and potatoes

I expect that some of my readers have some cool jokes they could share.  My brother and I were never that creative.  My dad was really angry about salt in the sugar container.  

I thought about teasing you with pretend titles such as:

Borne Away by Leaf to the Moon by Magellan da Vinci

Pulsing Leaf Blowers and Snarling Snow Blowers by Earnest Worker

Dragon Journeys Across Mars by Danielle Day Tripper

(Feel free to indulge yourselves in a similar style in the comments. I am sure you can do better).  

Instead, I have some real titles of new books that just came out, some that are coming soon, and one that is more than a bit into the future that for me comes very fast.  I hope you all will share new books or books coming out in paperback that you are interested in.  That is how my wish list grows.

Poll

Which book might you be likely to take a peek at and maybe read?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Non-fiction and fiction books can be beautifully written and make our hearts sing as we read them.  They have beautiful language, interesting images, a depth of emotion and inspire the reader.  They make us sit up and take notice that something important is being said and in a wonderfully new way.  It is a joy to read them.  

I am always delighted to find wonderfully written non-fiction books. An Alchemy of Mind by Diane Ackerman is one of those.

Many times, though, history seems dry and that is a shame.  One or two paragraphs sometimes covers years and a few dry facts sometimes represents thousands of people’s lives.  

It is fiction that many times invites us into a character’s life who is living the history and helps us understand what it is like to be there.  The story, when well written and based on careful research, can teach us so much and be memorable.  Often those books are beautiful and inspiring even when sad.  They make our heart sing for the life that was lived and we fold the characters into our minds as if we had known them.  

I have read a biography of Louisa May Alcott about the hardships of her life, but reading Little Women is more stunning and memorable.  Is this fair?  You may argue with me in the comments below.

I also read about Jane Austen’s life and prefer her books.  I read Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams by Lyle Leverich and yet The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire seem more real.

The books that make our hearts sing lay bare the human heart to us and share a character’s thoughts and triumphs, their failures and redemption that we can empathize with.  

Poll

What do you like about spring?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Because yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and because I have Irish ancestors, (James Moore married Betsy Kinkade), I will celebrate the music of the language and thoughts of Irish writers.

I have read Niall William’s As It Is in Heaven and The Fall of Light and I am enjoying reading History of the Rain.

History of the Rain  

Page 69

So there it is.  Man and Salmon.  And whatever knowledge is in the fish somehow transfers to him.  Whatever secrets of the world, what mysteries of chance and concurrence, of power and force and ultimate surrender, enter him, and Grandfather lets the salmon back into the river.  He lets it back and lies flat and exhausted, and he’s sort of crying for all that has failed in his life and for the failure of God to show up, and the rain pours down into his face, the Lighting Gaffer throws a switch and Mervin sweetens the score so even if you’re looking into your popcorn you know that up there on the screen your man’s in the throes of something like revelation.

Poll

Which is your favorite quotation or poem from the diary?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

In the story I have been writing for years at Write On!, the hero is the Chosen One whether he wants to be or not.  Sensible Shoes says he is not the hero, but he only thinks he is, but I believe Jasper is more humble than that.  I think he does the best he can to be heroic, but sometimes he depends on Hitch, his companion, to make decisions.  In fact, I think Jasper would gladly let Hitch be the hero.

Usually I want to like the hero even when he is flawed and makes mistakes.  I want him/her to succeed in saving those who are in trouble.  I want him to learn about himself and to gain confidence.  I want him to act even when he is afraid.  

I like it when the hero is vulnerable and reflects on his life, and I like it when he works hard to be better as a human being as well as a leader.  It is good when he recognizes he is not perfect.  I like it when he grows and changes.  I especially like it when he accepts the responsibility of leading and faces up to the challenge.  I also enjoy a comic hero who would rather let someone else do the work, but ends up doing it anyway.

I am fond of the hero who wears a mask and then returns to everyday life after solving a problem and gets no credit.    

Poll

Who is your favorite hero or heroine?

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Welcome to bookchat where you can talk about anything...books, plays, essays, and books on tape.  You don’t have to be reading a book to come in, sit down, and chat with us.

my books 4-28-11 165

Five of my eight grandbabies visited on Saturday afternoon and because the To-Be-Read pile is right next to the toy box and the computer and where the kitty resides, there was an accidental shaking up of the pile which is a good thing because books tend to disappear down to the bottom of the pile too far for too long.

Some people have their piles on neat shelves, I know.  Mine tremble in four stacks along with my challenge books for the year.  The pretty kitty likes to rub her chin on them and see if she can bump a few off the top of the pile.  

I am very happy with the books I have right now and many of them are books that my readers at Bookflurries have recommended.  Thank you!!

There are fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, romances, general fiction, YA, and non-fiction stories just waiting for me to open them.  Ten of the authors are completely new to me.  Sometimes it is easier to grab an author that I know and let a new one slide down the pile.  That is not good.  So a shaking up is a good thing with the books that have been ignored too long coming up to the surface.

Poll

Which book should I choose to read next from my TBR pile?

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