Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Twenty-Three: The Bone Chamber - Robin Burcell

I picked up this book at the Library Conference I went to in January, but I'm just getting around to reading it.

Again I read this book as part of the 24-hour read-a-thon, so I'm going to refer to those posts.




I would say the plot was not original for a book that came out in 2010. It was part DaVinci Code, part Bourne series, part Alias. It was a quick read though and a good choice for a weekend of reading.

Twenty Two - Eye of the Red Tsar - Sam Eastland

***Full disclosure: This book was provided for free by Bantam via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers group ***

Pekkala is pulled out of a lifetime prison sentence in Siberia to help investigate the murder of the Romanov family. At one time he was known as the Emerald Eye and worked as the Tsar's personal assassin. Pekkala finds out that his brother, Anton, who thought to be lost has been working in an elite special forces group since he was kicked out of training. Now Pekkala must work with Anton and a new recruit, Kirov to find out who killed the royal family. As the investigation continues, Pekkala finds out that his past is more important for the current investigation than he realizes.

Sam Eastland tells the story of Pekkala's history in between the investigation of the royal families death. He touches on the human side of Pekkala - falling in love with a local school teacher - as well as the loyalty he had for the Tsar.

Check out the following posts for other tidbits about the book. I read this book as part of a 24-hour read-a-thon.





Twenty One: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

April Book Club Selection

I cannot recommend this book enough. Rebecca Skloot has a way of working in the human interest side while explaining the scientific parts of the story at the same level of ease.

On January 29, 1951 Henrietta Lacks goes to John Hopkins for an appointment at the gynecology clinic and they confirm that she has a lump in her cervix.  A few days later Henrietta signs a consent for surgery and radium treatment.  Before the doctor places the tubes inside her cervix next to her tumor, he took a few cell samples.

These cell samples are sent to George Guy who is trying to grow immortal cells - cells that grow on their own over and over again.Guy's assistant Mary starts to grow Henrietta's cells - labeling them HeLa.  Their growth rate was unusual and the first batch of HeLa cells were created. Guy begins sending other scientists samples of the HeLa cells for their own experiments.

By September Henrietta's body is taken over by the cancer and her body has turned black from the radiation treatments.  On October 4, 1951 - Henrietta passes away.  Her husband Day unknowingly signs papers to allow a partial autopsy to be done.

As the years go by, more and more scientists are requesting HeLa cells and George Guy starts to experiment on sending cell cultures across the country and how to preserve them.  Some scientists contact Henrietta's family asking for samples from her children and husband.  But none of the scientists take time to explain why they are asking or what they are testing.  A few journalists contact the family as well asking questions about their mother/wife.

When Rebecca starts to reach out to Henrietta's family they are so turned off by all the other inquiries that she actually has to explore and do a lot of research herself.  She patiently explains and re-explains the research she finds and her intentions with writing about Henrietta and Deborah - her youngest daughter.

Two main themes surfaced while I was reading this book - 1) How did the HeLa cells impact science? and 2) How did the HeLa cells impact her family. The HeLa cells impacted science greatly by helping to standardize the cell culture process and mass production of cells on top furthering research on cures for many diseases. The HeLa cells impacted the Lacks family by having their privacy invaded by strangers asking questions and doing tests while they received no compensation for the cells being "sold" or having health insurance themselves.

At our book club we watched part of the BBC documentary which explored both of the themes I mentioned above.  It was nice to have faces put to the names we had been reading about.

I learned today that HBO is converting the book into a film and Rebecca and the Lacks family are consulting on the direction.  Awesome!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Adieu, Adieu...

We are back from the dinner party - but I'm pooped. I might read a little more - but not as intensely as I did for most of the day. I'm impressed with my fellow read-a-thon participants still going strong.

Until another year... adieu!

Hour 10 & 11 Update

Still reading, but we are about to take off for the dinner party.

I've gotten to page 147 in my second book. The story has picked up more now that the main character flew to Rome Italy following the government agent that asked her to create the sketch of the skull. They just did a very Alias-type "mission" that ended up in a car chase with the bad guys.

I can't wait to see what happens next - but it will have to wait for a few hours (or even till tomorrow.) Good luck with your reading to my fellow read-a-thon participants.

Hour 9 update

Most of hour 9 has been taking a break from reading, but I thought I would participate in a mini-challenge hosted by Alita which is similar to an earlier mini-challenge. But I like music and books and combining the two together is perfection!

Book Title: The Bone Chamber by Robin Burcell
Soundtrack Song: Who Are You? by The Who
Reason Choosen:I am only about 60 - 70 pages into my second book - but the main character is a forestic artist for the FBI. She had to recreate a sketch of a young woman just from her skull. You can't go wrong with The Who and it plays into the whole CSI type theme as well.

Hour 8 update

I'm 50 pages into my second book. There are alot of characters and different storylines floating around in those 50 pages.

My boyfriend will be back soon and we need to start working on our entree for a dinner party tonight. I'm thinking I have another hour or so to go - before I take a break from the read-a-thon.

Kinda sad about stopping, but real-life beakons. Back to reading for now...

Hour 7 update

Just finished my first book (Eye of the Red Tsar) and the ending was not what I expected.

Moving on to my second book (The Bone Chamber - by Robin Burcell). I'm not sure if I'll finish this book before I have to join the real-world and go to a dinner party tonight.

We'll see =) Back to reading...

Hour 6 update

I've decided to just post a short blurb to say that I'm almost done my first book and should be able to start my second book within 20 minutes or so.

Back to reading...

Hour 5 update

Wow - my book has gotten really interesting since my last post. I'm exciting to get back to reading.

Next mini-challenge is by Nicole who is asking for a food passage from one of the books we are reading. The book I'm reading (Eye of the Red Tsar - by Sam Eastland) is based in Siberia during the Stalin era. The main characters are investigating the murders of the Romanovs and don't have much food to eat. But here is one passage that does highlight a lovely dish:
Pekkala sat down beside his borther on the stone step. There was no
chicken left, but by working the wooden sppon around the edges of the pan, he
gathered up some of the sauce and a single jade green and translucent gooseberry
which his brother had been too full to eat. The still-warm, buttery sauce,
flecked with chopped parsley and thickened with fried bread crumbs, crunched
between his teeth. He tasted the sweetness of onion and the earthiness of
simmered carrots. They he let the gooseberry rest on his tongue, and
slowly pressed it against the roof of his mouth until the firm round edges gave
way, almost like a sigh, spilling warm, sharp-tasting juice into his mouth.

No picture for you, but I can link out to a recipe.

The second mini-challenge comes from Kate who asks what song would you choose to represent a chapter of the book you are currently reading. Hmm.. my book is based in Siberia - so right now I'm thinking dark, Russian music - since its focusing on the revolutionary time. But there was one particular scene in the book, where the main character rows his girlfriend out in a rowboat and admits that he loves her. They have a lovely dinner (which could have been another passage for Nicole's challenge above) on the shore of the lake. A few songs that could work for that scene could have been the "Theme from Love Story" or in a silly way "Kiss the Girl" from Little Mermaid.

Anyway - time to get back to reading =)

Hour 4 Update

Still chugging away at the reading. The plot has FINALLY picked up in the book I'm reading.

I'm going to grab some lunch after finishing this post and try to make a little more head way. The boyfriend has left for lunch with a friend - so I have the place to myself =)

Next mini-challenge is from Bart's Bookshelf and it's making a sentence from muliple book titles. I remember this challenge from last year and had so much fun putting something together. The one difference this year is that I'm using titles from my boyfriend's book collection - not mine.

My sentence this year is "All the King's Men - O Lost [the] Princes of Ireland, Look at the Birdie."

Mini-Challenge & Reading Update - Hour 3

I'm making good progress on my book in the last hour. I read about 60 pages and I'm about 45% through the book. The writing is good, but the plot hasn't taken off too much. It's still mostly background information.

I commented on a few fellow participants' blogs. It's good to see that everyone is making good progress on their reading.

Now on to this hour's mini-challenge hosted by Bobbie at Till We Read Again.

Please put your nominees for the following categories.
Favorite Female Character in a book: Emma from Jane Austin's Emma - because I can relate to her over and over again.
Favorite Male Character in a book: the character known as Oliver Stone in David Baldacci's Camel Club books because he's tried to forget his past so many times - but it always comes back into his life.
Favorite Side Kick in a book: This category is tough, but I'm going to say Hermione within the Harry Potter books because she knows how to be tough, smart and still tender at the right moments.
Favorite Couple in a Book: I would have to say two of Linda Fairstein's of main characters - Alex Cooper & Mike Chapman who are professionally friends - but still have a little chemistry going on behind the scenes.
Favorite Book Series: The Bobbsey Twins books - which I haven't read since I was a kid.
Favorite Author: David Baldacci - whom I've met in person once!
Favorite Book Cover: most recently - The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
Favorite Book of 2009: Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin

Mini-Challenge & Reading Update

Miss Remmer's is hosting an fabulous mini-challenge this hour.

My kick-off strategy really was just to have a good breakfast (a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios), catch up on the newspaper first and then settle in on the couch with a comforter (it's still a little chilly outside) and start reading.

I was a little distracted this first hour, because a hawk was trying to fly into the open windows within the apartment complex. I was fasinated on how the hawk could fly right next to the window.

I did get started on my first book Eye of the Red Tsar. 30 pages or so in and the main plot has been established and two of the main characters - who are actually long-lost brothers.

Back to reading....

Dewey's Read-A-Thon is Here!

Today - I'm participating as much as possible in Dewey's Read-A-Thon.

I just woke up - so the reading hasn't started just yet - but I'm planning to start within the next 15 - 20 minutes.

But first I want to answer the first mini-challenge questions:

1) Where are you reading from today: Washington DC metro area
2) 3 Facts about me: I'm a librarian, an only child and love to encourage others to read.
3) Books in my TBR pile : 2 right now- but I just finished another one last night.
4) Goals for the read-a-thon: just participate as much as I can and enjoy the day.
5) Advice for first timers: Participate as much as you can in the mini-challenges and other activities, but focus on the reading because that's the whole point.

Happy Reading!