Thursday, July 11, 2013

Listen to Your Uncle Mark

Were you lucky enough to have a favorite uncle who could tell you what it's all about? Among all the family hubbub, his take on things seemed so same and simple.

That's how I felt about Mark Bittman's new book:

He describes the middle way of good health and diet: eat like a vegan during the day and have whatever you want at night. 

If you succumb to temptation and eat a cheeseburger for lunch, no problem; eat a healthy dinner and try again tomorrow. 

Over time, he came to crave the healthier beans, grains and vegetables that he ate during the day, his cholesterol went down and he lost weight. Best of all, the "diet" was easy to maintain -- even for a food writer -- because it is so flexible and wide-ranging. 

It's an enjoyable read and the recipes are delicious. Thank you Mark Bittman (and a shout out to my dear Uncle Phil). 

The Joy of Growing Older

I hate to start on a shallow note, but Oliver Sacks is adorable:

And while I didn't like his newest book as much as some of the old favorites (like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), it is illuminating and beautifully written.

He created a sensation over the 4th of July weekend with his New York Times op-ed piece, "The Joy of Old Age (No Kidding)." Here's a link to the article.  Enjoy!

PS. Samuel Beckett was also adorable, and liked to wear his glasses on his forehead, but considerably less joyful about aging.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Review: Eve, Quinn, and Bonnie Iris Johansen

Guest Review by Shirley Ayres! Thanks, Shirley!

1. Eve by Iris Johansen (2011)

When Eve Duncan, forensic sculptor went to Colombia, South America, to identify a skull for arms dealer Luis Montalvo, his payment was to find and name the killer of Eve's seven year old daughter, Bonnie. Montalvo, true to his word, gives Eve three names of possible Bonnie killers. Eve's long time lover, Atlanta Police Department Detective, Joe Quinn and CIA Agent, Catherine Ling find evidence that Eve's former boyfriend and Bonnie's father, John Gallo, may be the killer. At the same time, Montalvo's third name, Paul Black, is being investigated for Bonnie's murder. 

Gallo comes back into Eve's life and she is sure he is innocent and tries to prove it. Quinn, of course, is jealous of Eve's connection to Gallo. Eve tries to keep Quinn out of harm's way by excluding him from her investigations. Eve's teen years with Gallo are told in detail and set up the characters in a different light. 

Plot twists. Murder. Romance. Hot stuff!

2. Quinn by Iris Johansen (2011)

Part two of the trilogy takes up where part one (Eve) left off. Quinn was stabbed in the back by murderer Paul Black and is on the edge of death. Eve, watching Quinn from outside the ICU, sees her daughter Bonnie's ghost standing next to Joe and Eve suspects that Joe will die. 

Not this time. Joe's recovery is long and hard for him and Eve. New friend, CIA Agent Catherine Ling, on the hunt for John Gallo, convinced that he murdered Bonnie. Ling catches up with Gallo but winds up his prisoner and almost his lover. Meanwhile, Quinn is getting stronger and wants to find Ling to help her catch Gallo. As Quinn recuperates, the story of his entrance into Eve's life is told in detail. 

More intrigue. Romance. Lots of killings. Good stuff. 

3. Bonnie by Iris Johansen (2011)

Although the main character in these books by Johansen is Forensic Sculptor Eve Duncan, her kidnapped and murdered seven year old daughter is the "glue" that holds these stories together. The whole purpose of becoming a Forensic Sculptor is because Bonnie is missing. Eve wants to bring closure to other families of lost children by identifying the remains of long buried bodies. 

Bonnie has always appeared to Eve and talks to her. Then, she becomes known to other characters in the books. Quinn and John Gallo, Bonnie's father, have dreams about Bonnie. Soon, more and more people claim to have had contact with the little, red-headed ghosts in her Bugs Bunny t-shirt. Will Eve find out who killed Bonnie? Will she find Bonnie's grave and bring her home? Will any one confess to killing Bonnie? Stay tuned. Murder, mayhem, romance, and ghosts. Oh my!

Althought I like the stories Johansen writes, the narrative is repetitive and, dare I say, boring at times. Sometimes it seems like the characters stand around and talk to each other a lot. But, there is a lot of action and mayhem. So I guess the boring parts are out numbered by the gory parts. All in all, I liked the Eve Duncan series. It was always interesting to see what challenges would present themselves to Eve. But, with every new skull reconstruction, came another lead to the mystery of what happened to Bonnie.