Sunday, 13 October 2013

Thanksgiving weekend post...

On this muggy, overcast, rather dreary morning, I’m drinking a nice cup of tea and enjoying the fragrance of a freshly cooked pot of applesauce… mmm!  This past week I have been on vacation, so didn’t get much (I should say any!) reading done, as I was busy with one thing and another.  But I do have a few books to talk about today.

I recently reviewed an adult non-fiction reference book for the local paper, and it was so amazing that I wanted to mention it here.  It is common knowledge that the three-toed sloth is one of the slowest and sleepiest mammals in the world, and that the spotted hyena is the most efficient mammalian scavenger.  But did you know that, as a group, birds have better colour vision than any other group of animals on Earth?  Or that the female cane or marine toad (Bufo marinus) lays as many as 50,000 eggs per spawning? These and other strange, remarkable, and sometimes bizarre animal records can be found in the Natural History Museum Book of Animal Records.  Accompanying these records are stunning photos and fascinating facts that are sure to delight and amaze readers of all ages.  This book includes nearly 900 records, which are broken down into sections and include all six animal groups:  mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes ad invertebrates.  The records include not only the familiar ones such as fastest, most colourful and best sense of smell, but more unusual records such as the most vegetarian, the least toes, and the most bizarre defense.  It includes different records for different groupings and focuses on the records that are most relevant and interesting for each type of animal.  The diversity and wonder of the animal kingdom is well-represented in this volume, a definitive guide to the most exotic and unusual creatures on Earth.  Zoologist Mark Carwardine is an award-winning writer, widely published wildlife photographer, conservationist, TV and radio presenter, and magazine columnist.  He has written more than 50 books, including Last Chance to See with Douglas Adams.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in animals, animal facts and/or animal records.  It is a truly amazing book.

And I listened to an Agatha Christie audio book, one of the Miss Marple titles, Murder at the Vicarage.  It is set in the small English village of St Mary Mead and the main characters, the vicar, his wife, and some of the townspeople, are all under suspicion when Colonel Protheroe is found murdered in the vicarage.  The Colonel is not well-liked by anyone in the village, and most of the townspeople had some motive to want him out of the way.  Miss Marple, while not a central figure in the story, is called upon to share her insights and opinions, as she demonstrates keen detective skills and abilities in deciphering clues.  This is the first Agatha Christie mystery I have listened to that features Miss Marple, and it is very different from those that feature Hercules Poirot, in that Miss Marple holds no official capacity as a police investigator or private detective.  Instead, she is merely an elderly woman who happens to be keenly aware of her surroundings and takes notice of everything that goes on in the village.  I just discovered that this is the first of Christie’s mysteries to feature Miss Marple, which is interesting.  Perhaps her role changes as more mysteries were written with Marple as a more central character.  I’ll have to listen to a few more to find out.  Anyway, it was a delightful listening experience, as is usual with a Christie mystery audio book.

And I think this week I will be rereading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon for my newest volunteer book group, a seniors’ group with the Day Program at the local Community Centre.  I wrote about this delightful book on June 3, 2012, after my regular volunteer book group discussed it.  It is a wonderful little novel about an autistic boy’s adventures as he tries to solve the mystery of the curious death of the neighbour’s dog, while at the same time find his mother.  I absolutely do not mind reading this again in preparation for another book discussion.  Actually, we are going to discuss it again in November with my “friends” book group - soon I will be reciting passages of that book from memory… in my sleep!!  Good thing my husband also loved the book, so he can recite along with me!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Bye for now…
Julie

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