It’s Monday What are you Reading? April 22, 2019

I’m joining the Book Date It’s Monday What Are You Reading?

WHAT I READ LAST WEEK:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them by Newt Scamander (aka J.K. Rowling). I have not yet written a review about this book.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Please see my review here.

WHAT I AM CURRENTLY READING:

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King. I’ve been reading this book (paperback) since February 25, 2019, and I am currently on page 283. I originally bought this book for my trip to Japan and China in late February, early March. I guess that I have set this book aside in favor of some other books, but I should get back into it. So far I like it, but I guess it is not as stimulating as I thought, if I still haven’t finished it almost 2 months after starting it.

Year One by Nora Roberts. I’ve been reading this book (kindle) since February 10, 2019. I rented this book from the library several times to date, and sometimes the loan expires so I have to renew (and wait on a waiting list). This book is a little slow, so I am not really so enthusiastic about it.

The Iliad by Gareth Hinds. I’ve been reading this graphic novel (PDF) since April 6, 2019. I received this graphic novel as an ARC from Netgalley. I can only read this novel on my computer (it doesn’t look right on my kindle). Since I normally do most of my reading while in bed (or via audiobook), it is taking me a lot longer to finish this novel (even though it is rather short).

I’ve Never Met a Dead Person I Didn’t Like by Sherrie Dillard. I’ve been reading this book (kindle) since April 9, 2019. I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley. I currently read this book before bedtime, and am about 50% complete.

Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng. I’ve been listening to this audiobook since April 18, 2019. I am about 2.5 hours into it (with 7.5 hours to go). I am enjoying it so far. I really like Celeste Ng. I read another book of hers last year, Little Fires Everywhere. My review is here.

WHAT IS COMING UP NEXT:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the 2nd book in the series, coming after The Raven Boys. This will be (hopefully) the next audiobook that I read. I am currently on the holds list at the library. I have had this book on my TBR list since 2012, so it is about time that I read it.

Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower IV by Stephen King. This will be the next paperback book that I read after finishing Sleeping Beauties. I saw this book in a used book store in Amsterdam and knew that I had to have it. I have already read the first three books in the series, but the library did not have the audiobook of the 4th book.

Blink of an Eye by John H.K. Fisher. This will be the next kindle book that I will read. I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

35901186Title: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Author: Kirk Wallace Johnson

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 9 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime, History, Science, Mystery

Read Start Date: April 10, 2019

Read Finish Date: April 11, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

My Review: When I first starting reading this book, I had no idea that it was actually nonfiction, and based upon real events. I had never heard of using bird feathers for fishing lures, nor had I ever heard of a “fly tier” enthusiast stealing exotic bird feathers from a museum — in some cases, the very same birds collected by Alfred Russel Wallace, and other naturalists of the same era (around the time of Darwin’s expeditions).

The writing of Kirk Wallace Johnson was so good, that I was convinced for the first portion of the book that it was a fiction story. After I got into it a bit further, and looked the book up online, I realized that this story is actually true! It seems to be a little known fact, which makes for an awesome and refreshing novel. The story is very engaging, and even though it is nonfiction, there is the distinct smell of a fiction thriller — a daring heist of rare, expensive bird skins leads an amateur detective into the bowels of the fly tier underground, where the secretive fly tier community not only trades in black market and sometimes illegal feathers, but closes ranks when threatened.

Did Edwin Rist work alone, or was there perhaps more at play?

I love that this book unwittingly educated me, not only in the not so known world of fly tying, but also the feather trade in general.

The book alternates between telling the story of the feather heist, and telling the story of the author trying to track down the thief. The author also explains about the history of feathers and fashion, and how during the Victorian age several species were almost hunted into extinction all in the name of women’s vanity and social stature.

This book gets a rare 5 out of 5 stars from me. Everyone should read about this strange little piece of history. Even if you don’t generally like nonfiction books, this book will not disappoint.

Fiction Friday April 19, 2019: First 1,000 words

I know that I am posting this a bit late, but I didn’t want to miss out on this week’s fiction friday. I am currently writing a book, and I just wanted to post the first 1,000 words here in the hopes of getting an unbiased opinion. It is my intention to add another 1,000 words of the book every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the blog. Comments and constructive criticism is welcome and highly appreciated.

**The below contains adult language and situations. It is not intended for children.**

Chapter One:

Eleven days after Charles Frenchman, a promising young lawyer, and his new bride, Emilie, a business student at Columbia University, had returned to New York City from their honeymoon in Africa, Charlies awoke with a dull, throbbing headache. Again. Shrugging it off as only the beginning of another one of the stressed induced migraines he often suffered, he rolled over in bed and began to caress his bride’s inner thigh. His erection poked her in the small area of her back above her firm buttocks. She groaned expectantly as he began to stroke her in the sensitive place between her legs.

“Don’t tease,” she sighed groggily.

“I’m not teasing,” he said nibbling on her earlobe.

“Don’t you have to go into work early this morning?” she groaned throatily.

“Yes, but I have time for this,” he said rolling her over onto her back and getting on top of her.

“Aren’t you going to put on a condom?” Emilie asked incredulously.

“I forgot to buy more. Anyway, I thought you wanted kids?”

“Yeah…but not right now. I want to graduate from business school first.”

“There aren’t any condoms anywhere in this apartment?”

“Not that I know of,” Emilie lied. There were plenty of condoms stashed away in a secret place that she reserved for outings with her lover, but she wasn’t going to tell her husband that.

Charlies began to lose patience, and his erection. “So, are we doing this or not?”

Emilie sighed rather unenthusiastically, but relented to her husband’s wishes. “Just don’t forget to pull out in time.”

In some macabre sense of symmetry, at the very same moment that the virus inside Charles was thrusting itself into his cells, Charles pushed himself inside Emilie’s warm and moist opening. If the virus was alive, it too would have groaned in pleasure as it began to release nucleic acid into the cell, prepping the cell for the virus’ genome replication. As the newly weds made love for the first time since returning from their honeymoon, the virus was turning Charles’ cells into virus factories. As Charles’ pleasure reached a fever pitch, he didn’t know, and wouldn’t have imagined, not even in his darkest nightmares, that one of the most dangerous predators on Earth had stowed away inside his body from Africa, and was slowly, but surely, replicating. Although his immune system was making a valiant effort to fend off the foreign invaders, Charles’ white blood cells were losing ground. The virus was advancing quickly. Unfortunately for Emilie, the virus had reached Charles’ testicles ahead of their unprotected love-making, and it wouldn’t only be sperm ejaculating into her unprepared body.

When his climax came, Charles intentionally did not pull out, more out of spite than any true desire to have children. The couple had been arguing again. It seemed that they were always arguing now, and Charles hadn’t had any relief in over a week. Emilie could always take Plan B. No harm, no foul. Or, at least that is what he thought. Little did he know that the virus inside him was reprogramming the cells of his sperm. Instead of making babies, his sperm had only one mission now, and that was to make more virus. Soon this same mission would be taken up in earnest in Emilie’s body as well. But for now, Charles was too exhausted to think of anything. He nestled his face between Emilie’s head and shoulder. His breathing was labored more from the pain in his head then from the exertion.

Emilie, on the other hand was less than satisfied, and she was pissed. “What the fuck, Charles?”

“Sorry,” Charles mumbled into Emilie’s shoulder. “I’m not feeling so well. Can you finish yourself today?”

“I was talking about not pulling out, Dumbass.”

“It just came on all of a sudden. I didn’t have time.”

“That’s no excuse! Do you know how busy I am today? I don’t exactly have time either, especially not to make a detour trip to the pharmacy.”

Charles winced. “Can you please not yell in my ear? I have a really bad migraine.”

“Sorry. I’m just frustrated. That was a really shitty thing you just did.”

Charles sighed. “I’ll go after work, okay?”

Without so much as a cursory glance at his wife, and with an obligatory peck on her forehead, Neil got out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror of the medicine cabinet. He looked like shit warmed over. His headache was worse than ever, and there were dark circles under his blood-shot eyes. Maybe the morning sex had been a bad idea after all. Still thinking that it was only a run-of-the-mill migraine, Charles opened the medicine cabinet, took the bottle of migraine medicine from the shelf, and popped a few tablets into his mouth.

As he was swallowing the pills, Emilie followed came into the bathroom. She was still naked. “We weren’t finished talking.”

“Give it a rest, Emilie. I said I was sorry, what more do you want?”

“I want some God damn fucking respect, that’s what I want. Is that really so much to ask for?”

“Then put some clothes on and stop walking around the apartment giving the neighbors a free show like some cheap whore.”

“The cheap whore you married,” she retorted.

“Don’t remind me.”

Emilie scoffed and turned her back on her husband. “What a total bag of dicks,” she thought. As Emilie walked back into the bedroom to put on sweatpants and a t-shirt, she wondered, and not for the first time, why she had married Charles in the first place. All the warning signs of a bad relationship were there. If Emilie were being honest with herself, the warning signs had been there for quite some time before they were married, years even. They fought all the time and disagreed over everything.