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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Touching the Void, Joe Simpson

Two audacious young men, Joe and Simon, set off to reach a summit that had never been reached before. Disaster struck when Joe fell and broke his knee. Simon tried to save Joe, but was forced eventually to cut the rope and leave Joe for dead. Simon returned to camp, certain that Joe was dead. A few days later he prepared to break camp, only to find Joe passed out a short distance from the camp. He had pulled himself and hopped over miles of treacherous terrain with a broken knee, no food, and limited water.

Touching the Void is the true story of their climb, their disaster, their survival, told by Joe. Joe's account is more poetic than I expected, and offers a harrowing description of going mad.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy true survival tales. Caution: there is occasional strong language in the book.

Silent Tears: a Journey of Hope, by Kay Bratt

An American woman moved with her family to China for her husband's work. She went determined to volunteer at an orphanage and to journal about her experiences there. Silent Tears is a collection of her journal entries.

Prepare to have your heart ripped out. Consider the orphanage worker who dangled an orphan by her ankles out a third-story window to punish her for some slight disobedience. I cried my way through this book. Send those children to me! I have room in my heart for more children.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has the stomach to read it, and especially to those who might be moved to take action on behalf of defenseless victims.

Pirate King, by Laurie R. King

Could Sherlock Holmes have married? What would his wife be like? Where would Watson go and what would he do?

Pirate King answers some of these questions. Mary Russell is married to Holmes, who sends her out on a mission to infiltrate a movie production company which is suspected of being involved in illegal activities, which is just about to make a movie about a movie production company making a movie of The Pirates of Penzance, only the movie company in the movie gets involved somehow with real pirates, and then somehow the real (I mean, real in the book) movie company gets involved with real pirates, too. Is your head spinning yet? And all of this is translated by a certain Fernando Pessoa, who apparently (if one can believe the afterword) was a real poet of this time period, who has multiple heteronyms. What is a heteronym, you ask? Read the book!

In spite of the unbelievably convoluted plot, the book was a light and frolicsome read. Or maybe because of the plot? I especially enjoyed the interchanges between Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and wished for more of them. This book does not touch on Watson, but apparently it is not the first book by Ms. King about Mrs. Holmes, so perhaps an earlier book discusses Watson.

Laurie R. King is a new author to me, but has several books to her credit, which means by TBR list just grew by leaps and bounds again. Sigh.

I would recommend this to book to anyone mystery-lover who's willing to imagine Holmes married and who can try to keep several threads of a tricky plot straight.