Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Great Bridge by David McCullough

This monumental book is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation's history, during the Age of Optimism - a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all things were possible.

 In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building an unprecedented bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the great cathedrals.  Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering.  Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project.  But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or exploiting the surpassing enterprise.

It was suggested that I read The Great Bridge by David McCullough to prepare for my trip to New York.  There is something about the way Mr. McCullough writes a book that makes me sit up a little taller and pay attention. I don't know, maybe it's because you can feel the enthusiasm he has for the subject while you're reading.  It's like being there with him while he's giving a lecture even though you're not.   I've read a couple of his other books, so I really wasn't surprised to feel the same excitement from Mr. McCullough while reading The Great Bridge - The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. 

I found the book fascinating just while reading the Author's Note.  Call me overly sentimental, but I truly believe some people are just meant to do certain things.  With this particular book it seemed to me that David McCullough was destined to be its author.  He set out to write a book about a bridge that had yet to be completely documented.  He had an interest in  the Roebling family, the family behind the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and he also had an interest in Brooklyn, having lived there with his wife in a house just down the street from where members of the Roebling family once lived.  But my fascination for the book came while reading about David McCullough unlocking a storage closet in the library at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and stumbling upon shelf after shelf  of documents written and collected by Washington Roebling.  David McCullough stumbled upon a treasure, and using other information he had access to, he was able to bring to life the story behind the people, the politics, the wealth, the sacrifices, the courage, and even the heartbreak behind the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.

I'm glad I read the book before and during my trip to New York this month.  I can honestly say that while walking the Brooklyn Bridge I couldn't help but think of the people behind its creation.  Knowing how much sacrifice went into the building of the bridge and the people who lost their lives in the process, I couldn't help but appreciate the history and the incredible size of the structure.  It amazes me that they were able to build something so grand and magnificent without the aid of modern technology.  These men were incredibly intelligent, not to mention gifted.  Their lives truly fascinate me. The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge meant so much to us as a nation, so I was a little disappointment  to see how much wealth and politics played a part in the process.  It was a reminder of  how some things just never change in life.  Some people will always find a way to exploit, and there will always be someone willing to sacrifice another for their gain.  It truly is a fascinating story and I would encourage you to take the time to read it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Day Stalking Lee Child...

 This is being taken from my family blog - The Ogden Family! With Updates!

Today was fantastic. We left the hotel around 10:00 this morning and headed to the Financial District to scope out (I can't believe I used the word "scope" in this post-I am a STALKER) the Borders where Lee Child would be doing his book signing. We took a quick stroll through Battery Park and wandered the grounds of Trinity Church. Then I stood in line at the book store and after a short wait was introduced to Lee Child. His eyes are just as beautiful in person as they are in those pictures I've been seeing in the back of those books he's been writing. When the book store employee told him I had flown in from Salt Lake just for his book signing, he seemed a little surprised. Actually, I believe the first words were, "no you didn't." Then when I told him that it was indeed true, he said, "are you crazy..." So not the words I was going for. I think I responded with, "no, I'm in love." And I don't think I bothered to clarify that I was in love with Jack Reacher either. It didn't matter though, he seemed very appreciative that I would plan my vacation around him and was very kind. I have to admit that I was a little star struck. I meant to get a book signed for a friend as a surprise, but when asked I gave them the name Katherine. What the heck was that about? I know a Kathy and a Katie, but I don't know a Katherine.  I was in the middle of personal tweet to the intended friend when I realized my mistake. I was horrified and was totally ready to burst into to tears.  Richard thought it was funny and laughed all the way back to the hotel.  Don't worry, dear readers, I already have a taker for the book...the very person it was intended for can actually use it.

After our rest we headed to Barnes & Noble.  They are so much better at these book things than Borders. But, I have to admit, I was still a tad bit nervous about going.  I almost backed out, but Richard insisted that I attend.  I mean, after all, I did plan my vacation around this guy.  Remember that dream I posted on my book blog about the police waiting for me at Barnes & Noble and arresting me for stalking? Well, there was an officer inside the building when I arrived, but she didn't seem to be looking for me and no arrest was made. I was surprised to find out that not only would Mr. Child be doing book signings, but he would also be doing a short lecture on Worth Dying For as well as a question and answer session with the audience, all while being filmed for a CBS special to air on Sunday morning. It was amazing and made me so thankful that I decided to hop that plane to New York. Afterward, I had the opportunity to stand in line with a lady named Nermin who was kind enough to pose for a picture with me. She was thrilled to hear about my vacation planning around my favorite authors and was happy I chose to come to New York to see Lee Child. Actually, I just think Nermin was happy to meet another woman that loves Jack Reacher as much as she does. I really do have a soft spot for that guy.

When it was my turn to get my books signed...again, Mr. Child was kind enough to acknowledge that he remembered me from earlier. I had no problem admitting that I had dedicated today to him and that I had been Facebooking and tweeting about it on Twitter all day. When preparing to sign the second book (yes, I bought four copies today), I told him I just needed his signature so I could give the book away on my book blog. That comment led to him asking for the name of my blog. When I told him, he recognized it and said, "so that's you, you're Andrew's fan." Yes, Mr. Child, I am Andrew's fan. Truth be told, while standing in line I was plugging the David Trevellyan series to Nermin after she stated she was having difficulty finding another author that she liked as much as you. I also plugged Joseph Finder's Nick Heller series. Please forgive me, but I really love to read and I meant it when I told you that I was a huge fan of Mr. Grant. I'm also, however, an equally huge fan of yours and I will forever be thankful for your kindness even though I am secretly dying to know just what was said to you about my book blog. It's an honest passion, that book blog of mine. I have your brother to thank for that. If I hadn't stumbled upon Even by accident I never would have discovered my secret passion for crime fiction, and, as I told you, I never would have discovered you!

Thanks for the kindness, Mr. Child. I'm signing up to be your friend on Facebook and will anxiously await your reply. When you asked if I was your friend tonight, I was a little nervous. I never signed up to be your friend because I didn't want to betray your brother. But then, when you think about it, I kind of already did that by making you my first author to plan a vacation around.  As it turns out, I woke up the next morning forgetting that I was supposed to sign up to be his friend on Facebook.  So in a mad rush, I turned on the computer bright and early and submitted my request...It took Lee Child 4 MINUTES to respond.  4 MINUTES!!!  I guess I didn't freak the guy out after all, but then again, he did say he accepts all female requests...that probably gave me sure in!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Random Thoughts for Sure!

It's the night before my trip to New York and I'm stuck in total panic mode.  Do you know how many nightmares I've had over the past week or so?  They've been nonstop and they are driving me crazy. The worst one is that I'm trying to get in line at Borders on Broadway in New York and they won't let me in because I don't have a number.  I can see Lee Child through the window and I can't get through the door.  Richard is pulling me away as I'm sobbing and screaming obscenities at the manager. Later, after I've calmed down, Richard takes me to the Barnes & Noble at Union Square for the evening book signing and the same thing happens. Well, actually, it's a little different.  They have officers waiting for me outside.  I don't even make it to the door before I'm  handcuffed and taken to jail for stalking.  STALKING?  I'm not a stalker, I swear.  I'm really not!  I'm just a beautiful woman from Salt Lake City that fell in love with reading.  Planning my vacations around  a book signing is just the only way I know how to give back to the writing community.  Out of all the things they could be choosing to do, these people write books.  And they write really good ones.  They totally deserve to have their names on my vacation planning list.  It might take me a few years to finally see them all, but this is going to be so much fun for me.  I can take pictures and stand in line for hours.  I can buy books and meet other people that love to read.  I really can't think of a better idea than packing a bag and planning an overnight visit for a book signing.  It truly is the best idea I've ever stumbled upon.  And, I can share every detail with you on this ridiculously lame book blog that I've created. 

Enough of that!  I'm behind on my reading by like 7 months and I'm thinking that somebody just needs to start telling me what to read because I'm never going to be current on reading if I keep straying from my list of books to read.  Having a book blog is hard.  I really need to reorganize it and figure out what it is I'm trying to do with this blog in the first place.  I'll be starting book eleven in the Reacher series this week and I'm working my way through The Great Bridge by David McCullough.  The second book is my historical pick for my trip to New York.  I'm leaving in like 15 hours and I have so much left to do...see ya when I get back and I promise to keep you upated on my adventures on my blog!  Much love-  Kate Dahson :) Yes, I'm using my alter-ego name!!!  If only because I'm headed to New York and the name was given to me first by the Blackdagger Brotherhood.  You want some vampires to love?  Them be it!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Reacher Fans

I created this blog as an outlet for me and my coworkers.  Things have been difficult this past year.  We lost our 401k contributions by our employer and then said employer cut our wages by 3%.  Health Care costs went up 10% and most of us were left to deal with deductibles for the first time in the history of our employment with Salt Lake County.  They took away any opportunities for wage increases and we'll be lucky if we see them again next year even though it's been promised.  I have friends  that can't afford to feed their families and some are losing their homes. I'm not trying to sound like I'm crying buckets of tears here, so please don't take this the wrong way.  I'm just wanting people to understand what it is I'm doing and why. 

Work has been stressful.  My life has been stressful.  I found myself  in need of something that I could call my own.  This blog is it.  It's mine.  I write purely to entertain my coworkers and to help reignite their enthusiasm for reading.  I write to relieve my stress.  It isn't the best writing and I cringe at my own grammar errors, but not being a professional writer, it doesn't concern me as much as it probably should.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm truly afraid of Google Alert and my fear is so great that I have a tendency to become physically sick over a new blog post.  I mean, seriously, my reviews are hardly normal.  Some might even find them offensive and I'm sure some authors hope that I never read their books and write about them on this blog.  Other authors have been extremely kind and gracious.  Their willingness to acknowledge the reviews are more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for.  All I can say is that I fell in love with reading and I found myself loving the time I would spend talking about the books with my friends.  This blog may have started by accident,   but it has since turned into something really fun and unexpected.  Basically, I'm just a beautiful woman from Salt Lake that loves to read and I also love to write about what I'm reading. 

With this being said, one of the things I love most about this blog is that it has afforded me opportunities to give books away to my blog readers. From Paige Shelton and Vordak The Incomprehensible to Random House and Little Things Publishing, I have been the recipient of great things to give to my blog readers. The most recent items were 24 copies of Gone Tomorrow, by Lee Child.  I have to say I actually wept when I received the box.  If you haven't been reading my blog...I'm totally in love with Jack Reacher.  Well, I'm in love with Jack Reacher and a few other hot male characters that I love to read about.  So getting a box of Reacher books to give away to my friends that have been super supportive of this blog was truly extra special for me.  Giving them away was soooo much fun! So much fun I even took pictures. It's days like this that make me happy about creating this little lame book blog that I have grown so fond of. Thanks friends, coworkers and all of you incredibly gifted writers that have been so kind to me. You make this all worth it! You truly do.  The following are some of my coworkers with their new books!



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Really Was The Hard Way...

Remember when I told you that I had learned lots and lots of useful information by reading the Reacher series by Lee Child?  I even gave us some "Reacher" advice on how to keep our mouths shut and let others fill the silence.  We struggled at the beginning of the lesson, but I think over time I've seen noticeable improvements from all of us...or at least from me.  I've become a master of not speaking.  Ya, right!  I know that's not true, so you can stop laughing now.

The Hard Way by Lee Child takes place mostly in New York with a short little visit to England.  New York!  Have I told you that I'm going there this month?  I am. I can't wait!  Why, you ask?  I'm going to New York because that's where you go when you're obsessed with a fictional character named Jack Reacher and you're dying for a chance to meet Lee Child.  Book signings are my new favorite thing (ugh, that sounds so Oprah-ish)!  And as you all know, I'm obsessed with my man Jack! So it's only appropriate that Mr. Child be the very first author that I'm planning a vacation around.  My husband, unfortunately, thinks I've lost my mind.   He'll get over it...until we head to Chicago next year to see Andrew Grant, and make a stop in Boston to see...well, this list could go on for days.  Consider it my way of showing appreciation for their willingness to write books just for me.  That's what they're doing, right?

Reacher's in New York doing his usual thing; sitting alone at a cafe in New York and people  watching. While sipping his usual espresso (can't we just call this coffee?), Reacher notices a man get in a Mercedes and drive away.   Doesn't sound like much, but that car just happens to be full of ransom money and the person paying it wants information from Reacher.  Long story short, Reacher gets recruited by Edward Lane, a leader of an incredibly hard-core group of mercenaries.  The job is to help track the man that has kidnapped Lane's wife and step-daughter.  It's a kidnapping in New York that leads us to England.  Or... is it?  In the story you'll read about a woman who blames Lane for her sister's death, meet a beautiful green-eyed private investigator, learn about Reacher's gift to tell time, read horrible tales of torture, and watch Reacher make mistakes.  Mistakes?   I know, I was pretty shocked myself.  It just means he has to work a little harder at solving the crime.  But don't worry ladies, he figures it all out in the end. 

I have to say that the most disturbing paragraph I read had me running to the bathroom to make sure my ears were perfectly shaped.  I was relieved to see that they were, but totally beside myself when I noticed that the left ear was just a tad bit lower than the right.  A flaw that became clearly visible today when I went to try on some new glasses.   Note to self:  wear your contacts to the Lee Child book signing.  Do not use reading glasses to send tweets to your Twitter family in front of Mr Child.  Do not tuck your hair behind your ears...he may notice your flaw!   Learning that Jack Reacher notices flaws in women was really difficult for me.  You can find the paragraph at the top of page 280.  All this time I've been doubling my workouts to look extra Reacher worthy for my trip to New York only to find out my ears knocked me off the Reacher Worthy Status Chart I've developed for myself.  Learning that I'm not Reacher worthy, was a lesson  learned...the hard way.  Sniff, sniff!  Hmm, I wonder if my beautiful eyes will make up for my ears being lopsided? 

Well, this is my review of book ten in the Reacher series.  I'll be starting Opposing Energies by J.W. Collier tonight.  He is a new author from Seattle that I found on Twitter.  Really kind and very positive.  Twitter-  where would I be without it?  Probably doing the dishes.  The first two readers at work who come to my desk and can tell me what the useful "Reacher" advice I gave in a previous post is; gets a surprise.  It's better than a book.  Kind of...