Year in Books
past year brought many changes. One of the most frustrating involved aging
eyes, which made for difficult reading. That coupled with fragmented thinking,
short attention span and work demands (just because I'm home, why should
I cook, clean and wash laundry?), meant several books still lay unopened,
unread and unreviewed. I won't begin to recount the "to be read" titles,
but a few read -- but unreviewed -- books still haunt me.
I wish I reviewed Sandra Friend's 50 Hikes in Central Florida. Author of a variety of science and geology related, award-winning texts for children, Friend holds a degree in biology, which means she looks at her surroundings differently than I do. She knows the meaning of rocks and can explain the environment in such a way that makes me feel confident to explore it. This particular book reflects her actual hikes on the trails. She tells exactly what she sees, what the hiker can expect, information and services provided by the Park Service (or lack thereof), the difficulties she encountered and the various ecosystems that exist in Central Florida. Best of all, for me at least, I can enjoy the hike through her eyes and soak up her enthusiasm without leaving my comfortable couch. The only omission I noticed: fire ants.
Another non-fiction text I regret not reviewing: Scene of the Cybercrime by Debra Littlejohn Shinder. Shinder, a former police sergeant and police academy instructor, combines three vocations into the book: law enforcement, computer networking (a.k.a. IT) and writing. Shinder and her husband "provide network consulting services to businesses and municipalities, conduct training at colleges and technical training centers and speak at seminars around the country." She is also a regular speaker at the former hackers' convention held each year in Las Vegas. Scene of the Cybercrime resulted from the need she saw for a comprehensive introduction, explanation and preventive measures to crimes on the Internet. Her book provides helpful, dependable information, and she writes in an easy-going style that allows me to understand her points without signing up for courses in computer jargon.
Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman's Longitudes and Attitudes, a compilation of Friedman's New York Times columns and his private experiences after Sept. 11, 2001, speaks to the worldwide impact of terrorism. Friedman's position as foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times provides him with access to the world's secrets and gives him credibility as he lays out his experiences, perspectives and theories. He writes to inform, not to impress. This easy-to-read book provokes thought and demonstrates the author's understanding of the average American's concerns and attitudes.
Crooked Heart, a "divine" mystery by Cristina Sumner brought me back into the mystery fold. Since reading Laurie R. King's Folly, I struggled through a plethora of mediocre mysteries. But Sumner's novel renewed my faith. Her protagonist, a wealthy, female Episcopalian priest joins with a bored, unhappily married small-town chief of police to solve an ill-conceived crime. The premise works, but the author's writing and her delving below the surface of her characters, elevating this to a stand-out first novel by a fresh new voice.
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