Blood of Paradise – book review

Blood of Paradise – I had this book on my “to read” pile for a very long time.  I finally decided to read it. It was great. I really liked the narrator Jude who told the story of his life in El Salvador and his disillusion of his father the bad cop 10 years earlier. Intrigue, murder, sex and wondering who is the bad guy and who is  the good guy.

I liked the author so much that I purchased and downloaded three other books by him for my Kindle.

Synopsis

El Salvador: America’s great Cold War success story and the model for Iraq’s fledgling democracy–if one ignores the grinding poverty, the corruption, the spiraling crime, and a murder rate ranked near the top in the hemisphere. This is where Jude McManus works as an executive protection specialist, currently assigned to an American engineer working for a U.S. consortium.

Ten years before, at age seventeen, he saw his father and two Chicago cop colleagues arrested for robbing street dealers. The family fell apart in the scandal’s wake, his disgraced dad died under suspicious circumstances, and Jude fled Chicago to join the army and forge a new life.

Now the past returns when one of his father’s old pals appears. The man is changed–he’s scarred, regretful, self-aware–and he helps Jude revisit the past with a forgiving eye. Then he asks a favor–not for himself, but for the third member of his dad’s old crew. 

Even though it’s ill-considered, Jude agrees, thinking he can oblige the request and walk away, unlike his father. But he underestimates the players and the stakes and he stumbles into a web of Third World corruption and personal betrayal where everything he values–and everyone he loves–is threatened. And only the greatest of sacrifices will save them.


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Book review – Still Alice

I usually just add the books I have read to my Have Read page and write maybe one sentence and add my rating but this book really moved me.

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Still Alice – Lisa Genova

I disagree with the last two sentences in the review below. I thought that the story told from a person with Alzheimer’s perspective was very well written. However it was a heart wrenching story. I read it on the plane home from Cancun and had a hard time not crying my eyes out. I had to keep wiping the tears away.

It was a fast read but as I said it really made an impression on me. Read it especially if you know someone who suffers from this horrible condition.

Synopsis

Genova gives us a hauntingly accurate portrayal of a young woman’s descent into Alzheimer’s Disease from the prime of life and the loftiest of cerebral heights.

Publishers Weekly

Neuroscientist and debut novelist Genova mines years of experience in her field to craft a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland has a career not unlike Genova’s-she’s an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter’s move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to emerge. First, Alice can’t find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel. She loses track of rooms in her home, resigns from Harvard and eventually cannot recognize her own children. The brutal facts of Alzheimer’s are heartbreaking, and it’s impossible not to feel for Alice and her loved ones, but Genova’s prose style is clumsy and her dialogue heavy-handed. This novel will appeal to those dealing with the disease and may prove helpful, but beyond the heartbreaking record of illness there’s little here to remember.

Highlighting Portland – Unique local businesses

Portlandia

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Music Millennium – Not just any old record store. Music Millennium has been selected best independent store in the country…multiple times.

Powell’s Books – the largest independent new and used book store in the country. There always seems to be an author there on a book tour. I am waiting to find out the date JR Moehringer will be there promoting his new book. A woman in my office knows him and will take me to meet him. JR is the author of The Tender Bar, his memoir. It was an extremely hysterically funny book but sad at the same time.


Voodoo Donuts – Recently seen on Man Versus Food on the Travel Channel. Also has been spotlighted on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and a Rachel Ray episode on the Food Network. Not only can you get unusual donuts at this unique donut shop but you can get married on the premises.voodoo_doll

The Shanghai Tunnel – Take a tour of the underground tunnel which operated in the late 1800’s to about the mid 1940’s. “A segment of the once-hidden world of shanghaiing. You will venture into the “Portland Underground” to see remnants of this shocking maritime history — unique architecture, underground holding cells, a “deadfall” trapdoor, unearthed artifacts of this terrible, misguided labor practice, and more. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the secret history of shanghaiing.”

McMenamins – Two brothers who have taken the meaning of a brew pub and expanded it to include several hotels and eateries in some very unique restored buildings. Edgefield Manor was once the Multnomah County poor farm. Grand Lodge Built in 1922 as a Masonic & Eastern Star home in McMinneville. Kennedy School an historic elementary school was abandoned and run down when the brothers purchased it. They gave back to the community by donating space in the building for a community police center.

Edgefield where I had my 5oth birthday party

Portland Saturday Market “Operating since 1974 the Portland Saturday Market is the largest continually operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the nation.” The market opens the last weekend in February and runs through Christmas Eve. The last couple of weeks the market is open everyday not just weekends. There are over 250 local and NW artist who sell their crafts at this market as well as many food stalls. It is a great place to find a unique one of a kind gift for that hard to shop for person.

Once again let me mention the unique fountains in downtown Portland. Drinking fountains  like the one  in this photo are found scattered all over the downtown area. They are known as Benson Bubblers. Read the history of the Benson Bubblers here.


Food Carts I have never seen anything quite like the number of food carts found downtown Portland in any other city that I have visited. Across the street from my office in the parking lot between Oak and Stark on 5th Ave. there are about 18 or so food carts. There are 3 or 4 Mexican, at least 3 Asian (Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese), 2 Polish, a Czech, a couple that make hamburgers, a Philly steak sandwich cart, barbecue pork, vegetarian, homemade soup and salads and more. The prices vary but typically are $3.50 -$6.00 for a decent lunch.


Just Google “Portland Food carts” and you will find a whole bunch of websites, food reviews and blogs that have articles about these food carts. The 2nd largest concentration of food carts is located near Portland State University.


Food cart video interview

There is so much more to do and see in Portland. Take a tour of a day in Portland with the folks over at Keep Portland Weird. Portland is a fantastically unique place. Keeping Portland weird does not have to be about being the biggest, the best, the most outrageous. Keeping Portland weird is about being true to yourself and supporting your community.

Keep Portland Weird was the sponsors or organizers of last Saturdays’s Urban Iditarod.

See my links over to the left for some good Portland travel sites.

Visit Portland to see the sites and help stimulate our local economy. Whenever possible I purchase at locally owned businesses. If I have a choice between McDonald’s and locally owned Mike’s Drive In there is no question which business I patronize. Olive Garden vs DaVinci’s the local restaurant wins. It is not just local restaurants that I try to purchase from rather than chains but they are the first examples that come to mind.



Support literacy and get a hilarious email in return

Thanks to a friend on Facebook I discovered Better World Books a couple of weeks ago. I promptly placed an order for several books. While BWB may be slower than Barnes & Noble to ship their orders it’s not like I am hurting for a book to read.

The online bookstore with a soul

Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than two million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders.

We were founded in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame who started selling textbooks online to earn some money, and ended up forming a pioneering social enterprise — a business with a mission to promote literacy.

The email I received from Better World Books:

Hello Jacqueline,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note – it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)
Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already – the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge – so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!
I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Walter the Farting Dog(oh, the stench)and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Walter was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I’ve had, I’m ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn’t take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I’ve found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.
But hey, enough about me, I’ve been asked to brief you on a few things:
You chose Standard shipping.
You can expect your order to arrive in 4-14 business days.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email my friends in Customer Care at help@betterworld.com. If you could please include your order number (8216991) that would be very helpful.
Eagerly awaiting our meeting,

Taken by Storm
Sacred Ground
Virgins of Paradise
Soul Flame
The Dreaming

Books, books and even more books

I have been on a book buying binge again lately. The following books I received a few days ago in the mail.

Sawtelle David Wroblewski
Other Queen Philippa Gregory
The Shack William P. Young
Nights in Rodanthe Nicholas Sparks
Goldengrove Francine Prose
Woman of a Thousand Secrets Barbara Wood
Sweet Life Mia King
The Smart One and the Pretty One Claire LaZebnik

Then Saturday I ordered these which won’t be shipped until 10/14/08 as a couple of the books have not yet been released:

Off Season Anne Rivers Siddons
I See You Everywhere Julia Glass
The Lucky One Nicholas Sparks
The Sum of Our Days Isabel Allende

Did I say that I have a bunch of books already waiting to be read? Well, I do.

Books, books and more books

Although I typically only read on weekends and when I travel I am a very avid reader. At any given time I have at least 20+ books in the pile of books to read. I usually order books from Barnes & Nobel because I have a yearly membership which saves me 10% -15% and gives me free shipping. Every month there is an email with some specials with bigger discounts. I have my books shipped to my office since I am never home and don’t want them sitting on my front porch. The mail room guys are like “um you have MORE books!”

If I enjoy the book I want others to read it and enjoy it also. When I read a book I always think of who would enjoy the book the most and then pass the book to them. The only thing I ask of friends I give books to is that they share them with others. My last trip to Isla Mujeres two friends loaned me books for a change. I came home from that trip with three of my books unread.

Books that I have recently read and enjoyed some more than others:

The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory ***
Ines of My Soul – Isabel Allende *****
Sundays at Tiffany’s – James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet **
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming – Joshilyn Jackson **
Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen *****
Selling the Lite of Heaven by Suzanne Strempek Shea **** hysterically funny!
The Blood of Flowers – Anita Amirrezvani *****
Plum Wine – Angela Davis-Gardner ***
James Patterson – Women’s Murder Club series the 7th in the series **** I bought the series so I can now read 1 – 6
Peony in Love – Lisa See ****
T is For Trespass – Sue Grafton ***** I love everthing by her and have read all A – T
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold ** a bit disturbing. The first sentence is “When all was said and done killing my mother wasn’t that difficult”
Tender Bar: A Memoir – J. R. Moehringer ***** wonderful characters plus a woman I work with knows the author
Atonement – Ian McEwan ***

A few of the books on the to read pile. The pile of books is not usually on the floor. I just wanted to take a photo to add to this post. :>)

Just ordered:
The Sugar Queen – Sarah Addison Allen
The Gift of Rain – Tan Twan Eng
Skeletons at the Feast – Chris Bohjalian
The End – Salvatore Scibona